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Full text of "A soldier's diary"

IElS DIARY 

RALPH 

SCOTT 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 



NE, W NO VEL$ 

LOVE'S PILGRIM j.D. BERESFORD 
NONE-GO-BY 
MRS. ALFRED SIDGWICK 
PIPPIN ARCHIBALD MARSHALL 
THE JORDANS 
SARAH GERTRUDE MILLIN 
LIFE E. WINGFIELD-STRATFORD 
ROWENA BARNES 
CONAL O'RIORDAN 



SKETCH mAP 
SHOWING THE COUNTRY AROUND 

YPRES 

Where the event.s descnbed, in 
the earl_y part of the DlaF.y took plae 
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YARDS I000 500 0 



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A 
SOLDI ER'S DIARY 

RALPH SCOTT 

LONDON: 4  PALL MALL 
V. COLLINS SONS & CO. LTD. 
GLASGOW MELBOURNE AUCKLAND 



Copyright 

Manufactured in Great Britain 



TO THE P.B.I. 



PREFACE 

MAJoR-GENERAL SIR FREDERICK MAçRICE 

LORD ROBERT CECIL has said that he is 
amazed at the false picture of war given by 
the history books, and that he trusts that 
the historians of the future will give us a 
better picture of what war really is than 
have historians of the past. I doubt if 
they will. They are concerned with the 
statesmen who direct and the generals who 
control, rather than with the soldier who 
fights, they have neither time nor space to 
concern themselves with the things that 
mattered to the men in the ranks. We can 
only get the things that matter,the misery, 
suffering, and endurance, the filth, the horror, 
the desolafion, which are a part and the 
7 



8 PREFACE 
greater part een of the most trium hant 
rogress in modern war, from the men who 
have ex erienced them. 
The reason for the publication of this 
diary is given by the author in his entry for 
October 6. " The only way to stop war 
is to tell these facts in the school history 
books and cut out the rot about the gallant 
charges, the victorious returns, and the 
blushing damsels who scatter roses under the 
conquering heroes' feet. Every soldier knows 
that the re-writing of the history books 
would stop war more effectively than the 
most elaborately covenanted league which 
tired politico-legal minds can conceive." 
Again, in the last entry of all, written after 
the author has been watching the Swedish 
Royal Troops changing guard at the Palace : 
" Is there no one with the courage to tell 
them that war is not like this, that there will 
corne a day without music, and no admiring 
eyes, but when 'the lice are in their hair 



PREFACE 9 
and the scabs are on their tongue' ? Surely 
our years of sacrifice were vain if the most 
highly educated people in Europe remain in 
ignorance of the real nature of war and are 
open scoffers at the League of Nations." 
These are not the words of a conscientious 
objector, nor of a neurasthenic, introspective 
man. They are written by a keen, healthy- 
minded, sport-loving, young Englishman, 
who passed through the war at the front, 
did his duty nobly, and behaved with great 
gallantry. He describes in vivid, clear 
language, just what he saw, he does not 
cover up the horrors with fine phrases, but 
just sets t.hem down in their place alongside 
the stories of devotion and sacrifice, which 
make up the high lights in the picture. 
It is remarkable that this story, which even 
to-day makes one shiver, is not an account 
of the grim struggle for the defence of 
Ypres, of the grimmer fight through the 
mud to Passchendaele, nor of the great 



I0 PREFACE 
retreat when the Germans swarmed over 
our lines in March, 9 z8, but of the period 
when the tide had turned definitely in our 
favour, and our armies swept forward to 
final victory. Itis an account of triumphant 
war as seen in the front line. We are told 
that the public to-day is weary of war books. 
It may well be weary of war books of a certain 
kind, but I hope it is not weary of learning 
the truth about the war, and every word in 
this book rings true. One of the surest ways 
to get another war is to forger about the 
past war. 
F. MAURICE. 
:oth A'ov., 9zz. 



"Hear now a songma song of broken interludes, 
A song of little cunning---of a singer nothing worth, 
Through the naked words and mean» 
May ye see the truth between» 
As the singer knew and touched it in the ends of 
all the earth ! " 
UDYAR D KIPLItG, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 

/@ril 23, 98. Arrived at the R.E. 
Base Depot, Rouen, and was delighted to 
find a pile of letters waiting for me. Damn 
fools that we are, we are all fretting to get 
back into it againmthe lines must be very 
thin nowadays. In the evening had an 
excellent Mess Smoking Concert, plenty of 
champagne, and a terrific " fug" in the 
ante-room. Heaven knows when we will 
have another night like this as we are at 
the last outpost of civilisation again. 
/lpril 24. Wasting time all day at the 
Demolitions School. God! what fools we 
are. Up in the line men are dying like 
flics for lack of reinforcements---here are 
thousands of troops and we cannot go 
because the R.T.O.'s staff is too small 
3 



I4 
to cope 
forms ! 
April 

A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
with the railway embarkation 

9.5. Several fellows posted to 

companies to-day, so that it looks as if we 
shall soon be over the wall that Haig 
spoke about and with our backs toit again. 
,4pril 26. More Demolitions--news still 
very bad--if they don't let us go to the 
Huns methinks they will corne to us. 
April 27. Demolitions again. We des- 
troyed a steel rail and heard a fragment of 
it go humming away over our heads just 
like a shell. About ten minutes afterwards 
the Colonel came down with great wind-up 
and chewed us all to pieces for being care- 
less. Our piece of rail had evidently gone 
right over the camp and landed somewhere 
near the Revolver Range. Unfortunately, 
the Colonel had heard it humming over his 
hut and it had nearly frightened him to 
death ! 
April 28. Church parade. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x5 
,42ri! z 9. Learning how to make dug- 
ours as practised by an officer who has never 
heard a gun go off--I wonder if the Huns 
do silly things like this. 
,4pril 3 o. Wasting ammunition all day 
on the Lewis Gun Ranges. 
May I. Bayonet fighting--so that it 
looks as if we may eventually get into it 
again. One man down from the line to-day 
says that he has seen R.E. Field Coys. 
holding the front lines with P.B.I. in sup- 
port. Oh ! let us be joyful ! 
May 2. Had the day off as I ara Orderly 
Officer to-morrow. Went out with Lucas 
and two nurses and crossed the Seine by 
an old-fashioned rope ferry. Climbed the 
hills on the far bank and spent a glorious 
day in the woodsscenery magnificent and 
everything so unlike war. In the evening 
we boarded a river steamer and went down- 
stream four or rive mlles to Rouen. Had 
tea (so-called), took the nurses back to their 



'6 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
camp, and back to ours by train. Rouen 
is a strange mixture--Gothic beauty and 
twentieth century filth ! 
May 3- Quiet day. Could hear distant 
gunfire in the evening--presumably at 
Amiens. 
May 4- Lucas and Richards went up 
the line to-day. 
May 5" Church parade. Wrote a 
lot of letters and pretended to be 
happy. 
May 6. Borrowed a horse from the 
Cavalry Depot and went for a ride with 
one of the nurses. Had a ripping lunch at 
a litfle café in Petit Couronne---omelettes 
and fresh butter (to say nothing of the 
nurse) are much nicer than bully and dry 
biscuit. In the evening played the Cavalry 
at Rugger and whacked them 8-6 after an 
abnormally hard gaine. We did en.joy 
ourselves. 
May 7- Lazy day ! $ometimes I wonder 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
if there really is a war onNthese people here 
don't know about it, and in England they 
must naturally know less. 
May 8. Very enjoyable ride in the Forêt 
de Rouvray with Major j. Had a damn 
good nag. 
May 9- Poor old Jock received news of 
his brother's death in Mespot knocked him 
up badly. 
May IO. Great joy. I am posted at last 
and to my old Coy.Ngood old war again ! 
May I I. AT LasT !!! Left Rouen in 
a crowded troop train and ruade myself 
thoroughly miserable by wondering if I 
should ever corne back and what every- 
body was doing at home, etc., etc. Silly 
ass ! 
May I2. Sunday. Passed through 
Boulogne and Wimereux early in the morn- 
ing and then through Calais and Cassel 
and on to I-Ieidelbeck, where we slept in 
the train. I-Iun planes came over in the 
B 



8 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 

night and tried to bomb the train, but they 
didn't get anywhere near us. 
_?llay 13 . Set off at 9 a.m. to find the 
company, and after walking eleven miles 
with my pack found them atone of the old 
camps in the Ypres Salient--quite like home 
again. The camp is surrounded by guns, 
and a battery of 9.2 howitzers just behind 
us make life unbearable. In the evening 
the Divisional Concert Party gave us a 
very good show in spite of the fact that the 
" theatre " was continually shaken by sheI1 
explosions. 
May 4" Went up the line with Mellor 
to take over his work on the Green Support 
Line. Paid my respects to Ypres again-- 
it doesn't alter much. Whilst I was writing 
a Bosche plane came over our camp and 
brought down two of our ParsevaI balloons 
in flames. AI1 the observers managed to 
get into their parachutes and Ianded in the 
woods about 200 yards away. Later on 



A SOLDIERS DIARY 19 
two more Bosche came over, but one was 
driven off and the other forced to descend 
with a broken propeller. 
May I ç. Very heavy bombardment last 
night and early this morning---our own 
batteries replied so we had very litde sleep. 
The Hens laid rive eggs. XVent up to 
Ypres again to make some gas-proof dug- 
outs. 
May I6. Working in the line all day 
and saw several air fights but no casualties 
on either side. At night went up again 
and had 200 P.B.I. constructing a barricade 
on the main Ypres-Poperinghe road. Enemy 
strafed the 9.2 howitzer on the Plank Road, 
and as we passed his shells were falling 
about 20 yards away from us. We didn't 
stay to observe his shooting, which was a 
little too good tobe comfortable ! Arrived 
on the job and round that hall the working 
party had gone astray owing to Brigade 
H.Q. giving wrong orders. Damned asses 



2o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
in their well-cut breecheswif they had to 
flounder about in trenches all night they 
would be more careful. 
The Ypres Salient on an ordinary lively 
niglt is a sight to be remembered. The rise 
and fall of the Verey Liglts makes a circle 
of tire all round us, and except just where 
the Poperinghe road connects us with the 
rest of France we appear to be completely 
surrounded. It is more than a marvel to 
me }'ow they have failed to cut us off in 
ttat little bottle-neck. On tlfis particular 
night Fritz was raining shrapnel into Dicke- 
busch and our people were giving him a 
warm rime in reply. The 4-5 howitzers 
were firing hamn-ter-and-tongs, and as I 
watcled the angry shell-bursts on the ridge 
in front I began to feel quite sorry for 
the Bosche infantry. However, his field 
guns sent saine high explosive over just to 
the left of my barricade, and my sympathy 
rapidly vanished. Cycling back in the gray 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 2 

of the morning ,are saw a 9.- howitzer being 
tugged into position by a tractor and a 
cottage in Brandhoek just set on tire by a 
direct hit. We didn't linger! 
May 7. Working on the barricade again. 
Much quieter night, but in the direction 
of Kemmel there was a very violent bom- 
bardment lasting about 9_0 minutes. Pro- 
bably a raid by the French. At midnight 
went into support battalion dug-out for 
a whisky and whilst inside the Bosche got 
a direct hit on top with a gas shell. On 
way home noted the cottage in Brandhoek 
still smouldering after last night. 
May 8. Finished the barricade except 
for wiring and the barrels of earth for the 
fairway. Also completed No. - Post. Got 
strafed by a 5-9 on the way up, and had wind 
vertical--o shells all to myself and very 
close. Very quiet night except for a few 
rounds of shrapnel on the barricades. 
May  9- Sunday. Rode round with the 



22 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Skipper, taking over all the demolitions 
from him as he goes to the Gunners to- 
morrow as Liaison Oflîcer. I ara now 
responsible for the explosive charges under 
all flae bridges behind Ypres, and in case of 
eçacuation of the salient l've got to be the 
last man to leave, blowing up everything 
before I go. It's a regular suicide club, as 
I know that fully half the charges won't go 
off unless I tire my revolver into them-- 
disadvantages of belonging to a corps with 
high ideals--" blow yourself up rather than 
fail to blow the bridge." 
A 9.2 battery fired just as we rode past 
them, frightening Blacker's horse and giving 
him rather a bad fall. Heavy drum tire in 
the evening in the direction of Locre-- 
heard later that the French got 300 prisoners. 
Durhams are doing a raid on our right 
to-morrow night. 
May 20. Busy all day on demolitions-- 
hot da)- and ver)- quiet. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 53 

May 2I, Vlamertinghe very heavily 
shelled with H.E. and shrapnel just as I 
was going in, Bosche got another direct 
hit on the old church tower and brought 
more masonry down into the road. Cycling 
along the Switch Road behind a lorry when 
a shell dropped into the swamp about 15 
yards on my right. Tore so,ne big holes in 
the lorry cover and splashed me with mud. 
Lucky the ground was so soft or else I 
should have had a little more than wind-up ! 
At night had 26o P.B.I. working for me 
on the Green Line. They are the best 
workers we've had yet, and only came out 
of the line last night. One of their officers 
told us a very amusing yarn of a patrol 
stunt which he did the other night--cap- 
tured a Bosche, killed four, and got away 
with everything except his tin hat. Recom- 
mended for M.C. Heavy barrage, for 
Durham's raid started at I2 midnight 
and lasted for three-quarters of an hour. 



24 A $OLDIER'S DIARY 
Bosche retaliation on our roads and forward 
areas. 
At rive minutes to twelve the moon »vas 
shining on a peaceful but desolate scene ; 
the £rogs were croaking in the shell-holes, 
,and the only signs o£ war were an occasional 
Verey light beyond Ypres and the lazy 
droning o£ a night bomber overhead. &t 
midnight there was a crash behind us and 
instantly out guns let out together, surround- 
ing us with a wall o£ noise and leaping, white- 
hot flame. The S.O.S. began to fise from 
the German lines and shordy afterwards 
the steady crashing of his shrapnel barrage 
was added to the din. This went on steadily 
for three-quarters of an hour, while we 
grovelled on out stomachs in the mud, 
and punctually at 12.45 settled down to 
the usual desultory shelling. Had only 
one casualty in my party, but he was a 
nasty sight--chewed to pieces by a direct 
hit. On the way back Mellor and I cycled 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 25 
into some gas and swallowed a bit before 
we got our bags onmcoughing and sneezing 
all night and had devilish headache. 
just outside Vlamertinghe we ran into a 
smashed ambulance and four limber mules 
and two drivers literally splashed about the 
road--our wheels were x'et with warm blood. 
Later on we round a saddle-horse blown 
in two but could not see any signs of the 
rider. One of the worst nights I have had 
since March ! 
May 22. Quiet day testing my charges 
on the bridges. Very hot and water un- 
obtainable--tried thirst quenchers, which 
were worse than nothing. White with dust, 
and eyes, nose, and mouth full of it. 
May 2 3. Another quiet day testing 
charges. Derry twice shelled off his job 
but had no casualties. 
May 2 4. Heavy rain last night converted 
everywhere into a quagmire. 
May 2 5. Beautiful hot day again. 



26 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Completed work on demolitions and finished 
all preliminary testing. 
M«y 26. Busy day handing over demoli- 
tions--jolly glad to be rid of them although 
it means front-line work instead. Very 
heavy shell-fire all night followed by Bosche 
attack, in which he captured Ridge Wood 
and Scottish Wood. Had seven casualties, 
and had to ride all the way home in gas- 
nask. Hear that the Durhams bave been 
very badly hit--two companies ahnost en- 
tirely gone. 
May 2 7. Ara posted as Reserve Officer to 
our forward company in addition to my 
own work. Working under the new major 
on Main Reserve Defences. Bosche still 
shelling very persistently all morning, especi- 
ally round Brandhoek, where he fired a 
large petrol dump. Picked up some shrap- 
nel which fell within two or three yards of 
me. Putting in a double machine-gun post 
in the top of a ruined windmillsplendid 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
field of tire and view right away to the 
foot of Kemmel Hill. God help Jerry if 
these gunners stick it! Also constructed 
a very strong double post in a farm on the 
Switch road. 
May 28. Up at 5.3 o and working hard 
all day in the Green Line. Twice shelled 
out of the front line, and eventually had 
to withdraw all men to work on support. 
I have told Brigade Headquarters three 
times that it is madness to work here in 
daylight and that I cannot accept any 
responsibility for casualties--the German ob- 
servation balloons can see us all the time, 
and we are shelled continuously. However, 
tey don't get shelled, so it is " Carry on, 
the work has to be done!" The mists 
are the only things that save us--as soon as 
there is a clear day we shall be wiped 
out. 
May 29. Had a whole battalion of P.B.I. 
working for me on Green Linemin this 



28 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
blasted exposed position again--it makes me 
feel like a High Church curate walking 
naked down the Strand! Shelled out of 
front line about I a.m., so left Captain 
of the infantry in charge of parties and 
went personally to the General--got his 
authority to do exactly as I liked and hot 
to work in front of the village after the 
morning mists have cleared. Some one will 
be wild at my going direct to the General, 
but I have shown him up and saved at 
least 5o livesmbut what are 5o lives to the 
Staff ? 
May 3 o. Tried the front line again, but 
Fritz knows we are there and shelled us 
out with low-bursting shrapnel--nasty stuff ! 
After the men had withdrawn I went back 
to see all dear and was damn nearly hit 
by a whizz-bang. It burst in a pile of 
bricks about six paces away. I heard the 
explosion, and on looking up saw a column 
of bricks and debris just starting on its 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 29 
downward journey again. It rattled all 
over my tin bat but I was otherwise un- 
touched. Later on some shrapnel whizzed 
into the parapet at my feet and some more 
crashed through an old notice board by my 
head. Hadn't a single casualty all morning. 
My luck is still miraculous and it seems to 
extend to the men. Bosche aeroplane came 
over in the afternoon and brought down 
three of our balloons in flames. 
May 3 I. Two companies of Fusiliers 
working for me on Green Line. Misty 
morning, so I started in front and got on 
very well for several hours. About 9 a.,n. 
a 5-9 ploughed into a breastwork that my 
corporal and I were standing on, explaining 
things to some infantry. Three men were 
wounded and the work wrecked, although 
by all the laws of reason we should all be 
dead. Probably owed our safety to the 
fact that the earth was newly placed and 
the shell penetrated a good distance lzefore 



3o A 
exploding. 
three times 

SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Af ter this our wire was hit 
and the men were getting 

nervous, so I withdrew to support, where 
we spent a fairly quiet day. Very bad news 
comes up from the south, and if the Bosche 
successes continue we expect to be attacked 
here. 
June I. Uneventful day except that 
there are rumours that we are going out 
of the line for a rest. Another huge piece 
of masonry was knocked off Vlam. church 
tower last night and buried itself several 
feet in the pavé. I should think it weighs 
over ten tons. 
une 2. Sunday (I think !). Received 
orders to more out of the line and proceed 
to Army Reserve Area for a rest. Great 
joy, and as we are much below strength 
expect the test to be a long one--the men 
need it badly, and I suppose the Brigade 
Staff must get their hair cut! Company 
marched wearily through dear old Poperinghe 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 3x 

and spent a quiet night beyond. Ail 
officers had feather beds although we messed 
in a granary. The whole road from Pop. 
to Wormhoudt was lined with temporary 
shacks and caravans where the refugees 
from Ypres are living. They were a noisy, 
dirty crowd, and the music from the estam- 

inets was simply appalling. 
bined with French beer 
seemed to attract Tommy. 

However, com- 
and women, it 
Oh! ye women 

of England, could you but see your heroes 
now-- 

" Singing songs of blasphemy, 
At whist with naked whores !" 

At home it is Sunday and you are enjoying 
the beauties of a June evening after church. 
I daren't think about it, my imagination is 
too keen. 
) eune 3" Moved off early in the morning 
and had a long, tiring, and dusty march, 
after which we entrained for our final 



32 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
destination. We passed through very peace- 
ful-looking country, and although not in- 
teresting, it was like Paradise after the 
desolation of the Salient. From railhead 
we marched to our final billets and arrived 
there at 8.30 p.m. absolutely worn out. 
Like a damn fool I carried two of my 
fellows' packs---but it makes them love me. 
une 4- Spent a very quiet day washing, 
shaving, writing letters, and generally trying 
to forget the war. In the afternoon I cycled 
alone to Cassel Hill, but it was a misty day 
so that I could hot enjoy the view. Met a 
pretty little waitress at the estaminet on the 
top, where I drank a bottle of filthy wine. 
.une 5- Did a little drill, etc., just to 
keep the men fit, and then went for a short 
ride--it is good to be with our horses again. 
.une 6. Weather is very beautiful. Spent 
the day in meditating--how I would love 
some books now. Gunfire is just audible 
at night. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 33 
 eune 7. Appointed Lewis Gun Officer 
to the company and spent the day lazily, 
apart from giving two lectures. 
eune 8. We are going to move again, 
although, thank heaven, it is still west- 
wards. At 1.3o p.m. received orders to 
meet Staff Captain at Brigade H.Q. at 2.15 
p.m., and it is I2 toiles away!!!! 
What would they do with bloody fools 
like that in business at home ? And they 
make just the same kind of mistakes when 
lires are at stake. Set off with I2 men as 
billeting party, and after a very tiring ride 
reached the rendezvous at 6 p.m. to find the 
blasted captain not yet arrived. I would 
love to write down the men's remarks! 
When he turned up he told me that oùr 
billets were a little farther on at the next 
village, but when I got there I found 
nothing arranged. After three hours' hard 
work (a great strain on my French l) I 
had everything ready for the arrival of the 



34 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
company. M. le Maire and the farmers 
vere very obliging people and extremely 
keen to help. If anything they were a little 
too hospitable, and as I was in a dickens 
of a hurry it was rather trying to have to 
stay and drink beer with 7 different 
farmers! About o p.m. Mellor arrived 
with the main body of cyclists, and we went 
to the Maire's to eat a dry bully sandwich. 
The old man watched us very gravely, and 
when we had absorbed the bu|ly I poured 
a drink of greenish-looking water from my 
bottle. He made an awful face and ex- 
claimed, "Ah! Chateau de la Pompe, 
pas bon!" He immediately rushed into 
his kitchen and brought us each a huge 
glass of sparkling cider, and as we drank he 
roared with laughter at the recollection of 
his joke on Chateau de la Pompe. After 
this I went out to find the company, and 
met them on the far side of Brigade H.. 
about t t.3o. I shall never forget how they 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 35 

came back that night. They were marching 
with our own Brigade, and long before I 
met them I could hear the jingling of the 
transport, the rhythm of their step, and 
occasionally catches of song floating down 
the valley--"Annie Laurie!" They bave 
left more than half their pals to "sleep" in 
Ypres to-night, they are exhausted, limping, 
lousy, and white with dust, yet, thank God ! 
the spirit is still there. The ranks kept well 
together, and, f.nished though they are, I 
believe they would try to struggle back 
to-morrow if it were necessary. I am a 
sentimental ass even yet, but I could have 
cried as I stood on the path and watched 
the P.B.I. go by. Except where the fitful 
glare from a travelling kitchen threw them 
into flickering relief it was impossible to 
see their faces, and yet I felt I knew them 
--hard and scarred and ugly, brown as 
their rifle stocks, as a real man's face should 
be. And always I wonder if England 



36 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
understands, if England will remember! 
How many of the ladies whom these darling 
blackguards bave saved would condescend 
to trail their dresses through the hells these 
boys call home? I wonder and I doubt ! 

" There are men in No Man's Land to- 
night, 
In travail under a starless sky, 
lIen who wonder if it be right 
That you should lie snug in your beds 
to-night 
While they surfer alonemand die !" 

'une 9" Spent a very quiet day settling 
down and getting used to the beauty of our 
surroundings. We are in a charming little 
valley between wooded hills with a pebbly 
trout stream to sing us to sleep at night. 
It is just like Cefn on the Elwy in North 
Walesma week here will do us worlds of 
good. 
)eune Io. Sunday. Was notified that a 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 37 
battalion of Middlesex is coming to share 
our billets with us, so I rode over to see the 
Area Commandant and had rather a stor,ny 
interview with him. Rode over again in 
the afternoon to try to get some tents 
out of him, and again I was successful, 
although between him and the Brigade I 
made myself generally unpopular. It has 
been some sort of fête day in the village 
to-day and the Sappers had a good time 
helping the inhabitants to decorate their 
little village square--it was very charming. 
ane I. Gave a lecture on the Lewis 
gun this morning--what profanity in a 
charming place like this! 
In the evening went fishing and met an 
old man casting with fly and wading. I 
ventured on conversation and imagine my 
surprise when he turned out to be an English- 
manmhe was very reticent and I should 
think bas a past! 
une I2. Asked the Maire about my 



38 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Englishman. Apparently he is a real hermit, 
and although he has lived in the village for 
twenty-three years they know nothing about 
him--he is a fishing maniac, and they say 
he spends most of hi.s rime on the river. 
Pity I ara not a novelist--what wasted 
possibilities for a real thriller ! 
) eune 3- Starting working on the con- 
struction of a new rifle range up in the 
hills so that the men can keep in trim. 
Pleasant evening fishing. 
une 4. Busy day on the rifle range, 
but knocked off work early for company 
inspection by the C.R.E. I think he was 
fairly pleased with us, and he brought a 
message of congratulation to us from the 
Divisional Commander for out work at 
Ypres. 
) e««ne 5" XWorked all morning on the 
rifle range with a battalion of Pioneers. 
Progress was very slow, as we were working 
in solid chalk, and every piece has to be 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 39 
drilled off. In the afternoon went for a 
ride with two infantry friends over the hills 
towards the coast. A most perfect day, 
and so very easy to forget that we are 
engaged in war. Once we came up through 
dense pine forests on to the bare summit 
of the last ridge of hills before the coast, 
and to my great delight we could see the 
spires of Calais in the distance. Instantly 
I recalled Matthew Arnold's lines and felt 
certain that he had been on that selfsame 
ridge when he wrote them. 

"A thousand knights have reined their 
steeds 
To watch this line of sand hills run 
Along the never silent Strait 
To Calais glittering in the sun." 

.and fifty miles away the guns! 
une x6. Sunday. Received orders to 
proceed to Corps Gas School for a course 
of training in Anti-Gas Warfare, etc. Went 



40 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
with ten other officers in a lorry from Brigade 
H.Q., and persuaded our driver (2o francs) 
to get lost in St. Orner. We had an excellent 
four-course lunch in approved civilian style, 
and on arrival at the school at 3 p.m. well-- 

" $ince 'twas very clear, 
We drank only ginger beer; 
Faith, there must bave been 
Some stingo in the ginger." 

June 7. Spent a quiet restful day, work 
starting at 9 a.m. and finishing at 4 p.m. 
Vrote letters in the evening and early to 
bed. 
eune x S. Had a very interesting day 
making gas attacks and committing sundry 
other barbarities---among them walking 
round a room smelling bottles and trying 
to identify the contents by their stinks--my 
nose feels as if the world were composed of 
one vast unmentionable stink! In the 
evening went for an hour's match in gas- 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 

41 

tion. 
yune 20. 
yg/ne 21. 

Boring day--fed up. 
Manufacturing stinks all day 
--will be heartily glad to see the company 
again. 
une 22. Examinations and end of the 
course--thank God! Felt rotten in the 
afternoon and went to bed--pray it isn't 
Spanish 'flu, as there is a terrible lot about. 
Shortly after midnight a party came into 
our but and took out Captain Sparks and 
threw him in the pond. Served him right; 
I never knew a more bombastic idiot. 
eune 2 3. Went back to the company in 
a motor lorry, arriving 3 p.m. Found the 
others playing Badminton over a wire net 
and in field boots ! Still jolly feverish but 

maskswhat sublime, unutterable joy 
get them off again ! 
une 19. 1Nothing doing at the School, 
so we ruade up a party and again tasted 
the somewhat bitter-sweets of semi-civilisa- 



42 
cheered 
again. 
eune 2 4. 

A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
up to be with the company 

There are rumours about to- 

day that we are going still farther away 
from the war in order to be trained as 
" storm troops"--apparently we are con- 
sidered a good division and we are picked 
for the Grand Forlorn Hope of the Allies. 
Even the most pale-faced pacifist could 
hardly help feeling a thrill of pride when 
he learns that he is picked for such a venture. 
Myself I ara delightedmuntil I think of 
the married men. It is at least certain that 
I am far too sentimental to be a Staff Officer 
ma man who unconsciously visualises the 
widows and the orphans could never do it, 
and to me it will always be something more 
than a gaine of chess. But perhaps that is 
only the natural attitude of the pawn! 
une 25. Orders came through last night 
that we are moving again to-day, but it 
is to be eastwards this rime. Up all night 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 43 
in consequence, and had company on the 
road with all transport by 8.3o a.m. March- 
ing all day, 'via Watten to St. Orner, where 
we arrived at 6 p.m.--very weary. Had 
only three hours' sleep and was roused by 
Orderly Corporal at  a.m.-- 
eune 26. with instructions to meet 
Staff Captain fifteen toiles away at 7 a.m. 
What a life! From Brigade went forward 
on bicycle and arranged billets for company, 
which arrived at 4 p.m. Very poor accom- 
modation and officers had to sleep in tents. 
yune 2 7. Spent a quiet day resting and 
cleaning up after our travels. Learnt that 
we are going into the line again south of 
Ypres, in the neighbourhood of the Kemmel 
front. 
une 28. Two oflîcers went forward to 
the line to take over our work from the 
French. Spent the day inspecting all our 
gear and cleaning guns and ammunition. 
We are beginning to lose our ragamuflîn 



44 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
appearance and look something like soldiers 
again to-day. It is wonderful the way the 
men can pull themselves together after the 
times they bave had. 
e««ne 2 9. All details completed and we 
are readymfor what ? 
une 3 o. Sunday. At 2 p.m. we left 
our billets and should be in the line about 
6 p.m. When we set out the company 
looked smarter than I have ever seen it, 
the men fit and well and marching like the 
Guards, the horses fat and frisky, and the 
wagons and the harness shining like a Dress 
Parade. The Major was away in front 
with Derry so that I was in command. I 
felt sad as I rode round the ranks for the 
last time and took my station at the head 
of the column. Then, turning in my 
saddle, I gave the words, and as the lead 
chains tightened and the pontoons lumbered 
slowly forward my sadness changed to pride 
--for the first time in my lire I was leading 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 45 
250 magnificent n-mn towards a battle, and 
I prayed that I might never let them 
clown. 
Proceeded to Divisional H.. Area, where 
we installed our transport with the exception 
of the limbers. The sections then went 
forward to billets under the shadow of 
Kemmel, where we arrived about 7 p.m. 
Every one very tired as it has been a broiling 
day and we are white with dust. Our area 
does hOt seem to have been shelled vcry 
much, and the farms and cottages where 
the men are billeted are almost intact. We 
are, however, completely overlooked from 
Kemmel Hill and cannot move about in 
daylight. The tool-carts were brought up 
and camouflaged after dark, and when all 
was settled and the men had had a meal 
I went to investigate my billet. It is a 
small room I o feet by 6 feet and, with the 
exception of a similar room adjoining it, 
is the only remaining part of what has once 



46 A SOLDIER' DIARY 
been a decent cottage. The walls were 
papered with newspapers printed in rive 
different languages, and the general filth 
of the place was beyond descril3tion. Follow- 
ing my usual 13ractice, I put Marjorie's 
large photograph in my mai3 case and hung 
it on the wall, after which the place looked 
a little more cheerful. However, the guns 
were very active, the lice were even more 

so, and hOt even 
photograph could 
asleep. 

the comfort of her 
induce me to fall 

uly . Got up about x I a.m. and spent 
the day until 4 p.m. lying in the sun and 
listening to the Decca--and the guns ! The 
last of the French officers left us to-day 
after marking on our map where two women 
are to be round on the Steenvorde road. 
Thank God we are hot like that! About 
4.3 ° p.m. ail officers cycled forward to 
inspect work. Everything is utterly des- 
troyed, and the once prosperous little town 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 47 
in front of us is now nothing but a pile of 
bricks. It requires large parties of men 
working all night to keep one road clear 
for the transport. When one considers that 
the town bas been utterly wiied out in 
two months one can form some conception 
of the intensity of the German shell-fire. 
After struggling through the debris we left 
out cycles behind a hillock, entered a trench, 
and walked round to the front. 
Away on the left we could distinguish 
the ruins of Ypres shining faintly in the 
evening sun, and smoking under a desultory 
bombardment. Closer to us was the brick 
pile and swamp once known as Dickebusch, 
and in front, a few hundred yards away, the 
bulk of Kemmel Hill towered above us. 
Two months ago I saw it covered with 
beautiful woods and peaceful rest camps; 
now it is a bare, brown pile of earth, and 
only a few shattered tree-stumps in the 
shell-holes remain to mock the memory of 



48 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
its verdant beauty. The whole of Kernrnel 
Hill and the valley and the ravines in 
front are one solid mass of shelI-holes. The 
earth has been turned and turned again by 
shell-fire, and the holes lie so close together 
that they are not distinguishable as such. 
The ground in many places is paved with 
shrapnel balls and jagged Iurnps of steel 
--in ten square yards you could pick up 
several hundredweight. 
There was a magnificent vie»v of all the 
Bosche forward lines, but of course he has 
a rnuch better vie»v of ours and also of our 
back areas. They say it is death to move 
a finger in front of the hill and ai1 our work 
will have to be done at night. 
On our way back we carne across an old 
French battery position which had appar- 
ently been defended to the end in the great 
struggle. The guns were right in the open 
and rnust have caught the fulI blast of the 
German tire, for the lirnbers were all shattered 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 49 
to pieces and many of them were turned 
over into the shell-holes. The gunners 
were killed to a man round their pieces, 
and could bave no finer monument than 
their pile of empty shell-cases. Their bodies 
still lay there unburied, mixed up with 
the carcasses of the horses with which they 
had tried to get the guns away at the last 
moment--some were headless, limbless, and 
with their entrails strewn around them--most 
had had the clothing blown from their 
bodies, and some had been hall eaten by 
the rats. A noble end and yet--how infinitely 
better if such true nobility could have 
served a better causeur must we, in despair, 
admit our civilisation to be a sham and war 
the only reality which can show us at our 
best ? If any man had the power to picture 
the fearful indescribability of that scene I 
vow there would be no war--but it is not 
to be--the world is so utterly detached 
from all this blood and carnage, it doesn't 



50 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
worry them, and besides, they must have 
recreation, " the strain is so terrible, you 
know." They can hardly stand it, poor 
things--and besides, the air raidsmterrible ! 
Meantime we die--without recreation. 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do." 
'uly 2. Belote turning in last night I 
spent some time over my maps and bave 
now got a pretty clear idea of the hopeless- 
ness of our position. There are no trenches, 
but we hold a broken line of outposts about 
rive hundred yards in front of an old main 
road which we are defending. The key of 
our position is one solitary hill, a smaI1 
symmetrical hump not more than oo feet 
high and entirely overlooked by Mont 
Kemmel, which is ten times higher. And 
yet the whole line in Northern France, 
and perhaps the result of the war, depends 
on out holding this little bill. Between it 
and the coast the country is as fiat as a 



A 8OLDIER'S DIARY 51 
pancake, and if we lose the hill we lose 
Calais and the Belgian ports--so much for 
the country, now for the men. We bave a 
division which, with the exception of the 
few days' recent rest, bas had about six 
months of continuous hard fighting. Out 
front is twice as long as it should be, we are 
still below hall strength, and most of out 
effectives are boys of 8-9 going into 
the line for the first time. On the other 
hand, the Huns hold very superior positions 
and they are flushed with victory. Such is 
our problem ; the answer will be written in 
blood around the slopes of Kemmel. I 
forgot to say that there are no reserves 
between ourselves and Calais. Let us pray! 
uly 3" Went forward at 3 a.m. with 
the Major in the hope of laying out new 
trenches for to-night's work. Unfortunately 
the mists cleared away very early and we 
were not able to do very much. Fritz was 
apparently very sleepy and we didn't get 



52 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
sniped--nevertheless I »vas jolly glad to 
get into a trench again. I cycled back and 
spent the morning at the Dump and in 
looking for material. In the afternoon went 
forward again with my sergeant to show 
him the work, but was not able to do much 
as the snipers were very active. Went 
forward again in the evening--did another 
reconnaissance and got a party of about 
3 ° men out on the job by I I p.m. We were 
trying to put a belt of wire across the end 
of a valley which offers a covered advance 
to Huns. Progress was very slow owing 
to persistent enemy machine-gun tire and 
horrible condition of the valley bottom. 
Fritz had apparendy brought a gun forward 
specially to shoot up the gully and we had 
to spend most of the nîght on our stomachs. 
In addition, the transport got lost and we 
were held up for lack of material. 
uly 4- Got back to billets about 5 a.m., 
having been on my feet twenty-six hours. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 53 
Had a few hours' sleep and went forward 
again with ten men, showing them the 
tracks, etc., so that they will be available 
as guides. Went forward again at 8 p.m. 
and after a terrific struggle got two pontoons 
of material behind the bill by t t p.m. On 
way up an 8-in. shell landed between the 
wagons and knocked out two men whom 
we left with R.A.M.C. The horses were 
terrified, and in trying to hold them Baker 
was knocked down by one and badly kicked. 
I wanted him to go back, but he insisted 
in carrying on. There was heavy shell-fire 
all the way up and I was damn glad to get 
them all under cover. Work on the valley 
was again very slow, owing to heavy machine- 
gun tire and lack of carrying-parties. Jump- 
ing down into a shell-hole when the tire 
was rather hot I caught on some wire and 
ripped my leg, and also cut my left breeches 
leg right off. When the men had gone 
back I tried to do some more taping out 



54 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
before the mists cleared but could hardly 
drag myself along and nearly fell asleep in 
No Man's Land. 
)euly 5" Got back to billets to find that 
Derry had gone sick. More work for the 
rest of us, and we are nearly tired out now. 
In the evening Blacker crocked up and 
went sick too--pure undiluted funk on his 
part. Three officers left now to do the 
work of ten and the Major will go soon. 
He hasn't been to bed for a week, and must 
have walked at least twenty-five mlles every 
day. I had a talk with him and persuaded 
him to order the T.O. up from the horse 
lines, so that will make four of us. I have 
got two Brigades to look af ter now. 
Forward again about 7 p.m. and nearly 
completed wire across the valley in spite 
of usual machine-gun fire--two men hit 
in my party. Heavy shell-fire all night. 
)euly 6. Coming home about 4 a.m. 
I met the Major alone, and although nearly 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 55 
finished I went back to help him to lay out 
a new line. Poor old Major is nearly done, 
but he will drop before he gives in. I hope 
we can last until some more officers corne, 
but my eyes are jumping and my head 
sings like a tornado--how few people must 
know what it is like to be really exhausted 
in the body and yet to bave a mind which 
drives you on. 

" To make your heart and nerve and sinew 
Still serve your turn long after they are 
gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in 
you 
Except the Will which says to them, 
' Hold on.' " 

I hope we can. 
yuly 7. Beginning to get used to feeling 
tired and think we can stick it now. We 
are all jumpy and are too far gone to talk 
or read the paper--the Decca hasn't been 



56 Pi SOLDIER'S DIARY 
touched for days. Had another cruel night, 
and was on the go for twelve hours. Finished 
wire across the valley and got well on with 
digging reserve trenches and wiring reserve 
line. 
uly 8. Had three hours' sleep and went 
up again at night after a heavy afternoon's 
work. Very heavy thunderstorms all night 
ruade it almost impossible to more about. 
Was so exhausted with falling into shell- 
holes that I started to crawl about on my 
hands and knees in the mud--once I almost 
cried with sheer weakness. On way home 
I fell off my bike and was so weak I had 
to leave it in a shell-hole. Once or twice 
I touched my revolver--there is always 
that. It is a terrible thought, and even 
now, half an hour afterwards, I can't under- 
stand it--how much less can people at 
home! 
uly 9- Slept a bit, worked all afternoon, 
and up again at night. Heavily shelled on 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 57 
way up but no casualties. Completed first 
wiring of left Brigade front and most of 
their digging. Did an early morning recon- 
naissance with Major and Brigade-Major, 
having been on the go fifteen hours. 
I think we can keep it up indefinitely 
now, but where our strength cornes from I 
don't knowmat least eighteen hours per 
day. 
uly IO. Usual sort of day. Had to 
walk all the way to line and back as it was 
impossible to get a bike through the mud. 
Wretched night, with pouring rain and howl- 
ing windmtwo poor devils killed. 
uly I I. Usual daystarted clearing 
New Wood for digging to-morrow night. 
Whole area heavily shelled. Could sleep 
for ever and would dearly love to die. 
uly I2. Went up in the afternoon to 
take over two more jobsmaking a new 
roof for left Brigade H.Q.'s and tunnelling 
an underground First-Aid Post for the 



58 A 8OLDIER'S DIARY 
Middlesex. Had tea with the Brigadier 
and then dinner with the C.O. front line 
battalion. It is really very amusing the 
way in which some of these old-time regulars 
endeavour to preserve their mess formalities. 
The dug-out couldn't have been more than 
- feet square, and yet they managed to 
produce quite a respectable four-course 
dinner for seven officers. It was handed 
on to the table by a perspiring orderly, who 
crouched in the entrance to a tunnel which 
could not have exceeded 3 ft. by 4 ft. 
How the food was cooked I could never 
imagine, but the smells of cooking leaked 
out from behind the orderly, and somewhere 
in the depths of the blackness behind him 
there was a voice that swore, mightily and 
frequently. I judged that the Voice had 
produced the meal and also that it had been 
a hot job. Most of the soup got spilt belote 
it left the end of the cavern, but the smell 
was excellent and gave us quite an appetite 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 59 
for the tinned salmon which followed. This 
had been brought up with ammunition and 
a bottle of execrable French vinegar from 
Division that very afternoon. The next 
course was excellent. Roast mutton, pro- 
cured as the result of dark dealings with 
the A.S.C., fresh peas from heavens knows 
where, and lastly some sauce ruade from 
mint which they said had been growing 
last night in No Man's Land. The sweet 
was a treacle pudding. We drank thin 
whiskies and sodas which were distincfly 
lukewarm in spite of ail the doctor's efforts 
to keep the stuff cool. All things considered, 
a very enjoyable meal and a great credit 
to the Voice. 
Did a hard night's work and got back, 
feeling as if I could sleep for ever, about 
5 ao ITIo 
¢uly t3" Was up again about t o a.m. 
and inspected explosives before lunch. Then 
up the line again to start another mining 



60 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
job--" B" Company, H.Q. Front Line 
Battalion. Have now got two big mining 
jobs in hand and the Colonel absolutely 
refuses to send me any tituber. He says 
there is plenty to be salved. True, 0 king ! 
but to call it firewood would be flattery. 
However, it doesn't matter--if the whole 
damn shaft falls in and kills twenty men 
there are plenty more in England. Life 
is much cheaper than timber ! Managed to 
get home for tea and dinner, but back out 
again all night. While talking to one of 
the working-party officers a piece of whizz- 
bang landed between us and another one 
smashed his respirator. I ana sure some one 
is going to be killed in the mines--the earth 
runs like quicksand, and even with decent 
frames it would be a dangerous job. With- 
out, it is sheer suicide, and a shell anywhere 
near us on the surface will cave the whole 
thing in. Fortunately, the men don't realise 
these things, lucky beggars. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 6 
.uly 4- Informed that the Division on 
our right are doing a raid to-night, but 
working parties are to go out as usual! 
If I were sentimental I should have to write 
a last letter home every night--then I would 
certainly be killed. 
Started work on a strong point in front 
of the hill, and shortly afterwards our barrage 
started in conjunction with the raid. It 
was very tierce, and the S.O.S. lights went 
up at once over the German lines. We 
were watching the pretty colours when 
their protective barrage came down, just 
like a sudden thunderstorm, and I realised 
to my horror that we were working dead 
on their barrage line. Before I saw exactly 
what had happened two men were knocked 
to pieces and the remainder were running 
all over the place looking for cover. There 
were the ruins of a farm on our left, and 
I was trying to get the men together into 
the holes around this. We got about fifteen 



62 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
into this and several wounded, and then 
they shortened range. A salvo came bang 
on top of us, there was a great lurid flash 
and a roar by my feet and I thought I 
was done for. I went clean off my feet and 
was blown several yards, but got up and 
found I was untouched but nearly blind 
and awfully dizzy. I heard some one 
calling, and round McDougall. He had 
been knocked over by the same shell and 
was quite blind. We crawled into a hole 
together and waited to get our breath. 
The shells were coming just round us in 
solid masses so close that we could feel the 
earth heaving, and once or twice we were 
half buried. I had lost my bearings com- 
pletely, and McDougall was sfill blind and 
apparenfly dazed, for he wouldn't answer 
when I shouted in his ear. Then I felt 
alone and I thought I would go mad-- 
there were rats in the same hole with us, 
screaming with terror, and all the rime those 



A SOLDIEP,.'S DIARY 63 
blasted shells, crash, crash, crash. I felt 
I must do something, so I looked over into 
the next shell-hole and saw that it was part 
of an old trench. I shoved McDougall over 
and together we flopped down into it and 
felt much saler, as it was deeper than the 
one we had left. Then I started to crawl 
along the trench, and to my great delight 
we round some of" the men. 
For three-quarters of" an hÇur we lay in 
that ditch with the earth jumping and 
f"alling all round usmat rimes the whole 
trench seemed to more three or four f.eet. 
A ration party out on the mule track hadn't 
got such good cover, and we could hear 
the poor devils moaning and screaming as 
some of. the others tried to drag them back 
to the aid post. Some of" the kids in out 
trench began to cry, and I f"elt like it myselL 
We were all choking, and the valley was so 
f"ull of" smoke and dust that I couldn't even 
see the Verey lights which were less than 



64 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
300 yards away--only the great red splashes 
of tire where file shells burst. 
It seemed to last for hours; file steady 
crashing of file bursts, the whine of file 
flying pieces and all around the screaming 
of shattered men who had once been strong. 
And then the smell which, if a man bas 
known it once, will haunt him to the end 
of time, the most sickly nauseating stench 
in file world--the combined smell of moist 
earfil, high explosive, and warm human blood. 
God, in Thy mercy, let me never again 
hear any one speak of file Glory of War ! 
About .3 o file noise stopped almost as 
suddenly as it had begun, but he put down 
two more barrages, one at 2.0 a.m. and one 
at 2.30. Had an awful headache when I 
got to bed. 
¢tly 15. McDougall gone down with 
shell-shock and blindness, but I managed 
to turn out, although very sore and stiff-- 
that shell must bave been mighty close, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 65 
and every one is agreed we should be dead. 
Dinner with the Colonel again and promised 
to repair his dug-out, which got badly 
smashed up last night. 
Desultory shelling all night but com- 
paratively quiet--my head feels like a con- 
certina and if we had more oflîcers I would 
certainly go to hospital. However 
uly 6. Ail my men were sent back 
to the Reserve line to-day for a rest, but 
as we are so short of officers there is no 
rest for me. In fact the work is rather 
more, and I had a very heavy time explaining 
things to the new sergeants. 
Machine-gun bullet hit a stump about a 
yard in front of me and drove a lot of dirt 
and splinters into my face. 
I ara worn out. 
uly 7. Was coming home this morning 
about 5 a.m. very weary, when Jerry put 
down still another barrage. There were 
no trenches handy and I spent a nasty 



66 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
half-hour in a ditch on the side of the track. 
When you have once been strong it is awful 
to lie in a ditch and quiver like a jelly when 
shells are falling fifty yards away. I ara 
going all to pieces and my imagination is 
killing me. Last night I was alone inspecting 
the wire when for some hellish reason I saw 
a picture of myself disabled by a bullet 
and lying for hours until I bled to deathm 
days it would have been, for my vitality 
is tremendous. For several minutes I couldn't 
move, covered with a clammy sweat and 
paralysed with fear. 
Great wind-up to-day--the Huns are 
expected to make their last effort for Calais 
to-morrow. Every available man working 
on battle positions, and all guns fired a 
counter preparation on German roads. If 
they do attack seriously it will be the end 
of my diary. 
euly 8. Worked like devils all last 
night and then spent an awful hour belote 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 67 
dawn, standing to and v,,aiting for the 
attack. Every time an odd shell came over 
we held out breath and waited for the 
crash of the general bombardment. The 
strain was terrific and my stomach felt as 
if I had eaten a whole live jelly-fish. The 
attack didn't corne--2 4 hours' reprieve ! 
euly 19 . Another day of feverish 
activity, work, and strain. I have been 
thinking of Piccadilly Circus and wonder if 
they realise how very near they are to the 
end. Reconnoitred an old farm with a view 
to erecting a Brigade H.Q. there in event 
of retreat to Reserve Line. Why, Heaven 
knows, as if they do attack there will be no 
one to retreat--except, of course, the Brigade 
H.Q. with their trouser-presses, etc. Derry 
came back to us and is going to take over 
this »vork. 
Did very well in the line at night, and 
completed »vire to Right Brigade in spite 
of heavy shell-fire. 



68 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
euly 20. Words fail me--a new oflîcer 
has arrived and I am going to have a rest, at 
least a comparative one, on the Reserve Line. 
After starting the parties I spent the night 
advising the P.B.I. on trench drainage and 
got soaked up to the waist. Got three hours' 
sleep in my soaking clothcs as German attack 
is still expected. I wish it would come-- 
the strain of waiting is terrible. 
July 2I. Lire is getting quite enjoyable 
again. Spent the night handing over to 
new oflïcer. The company has received 
four more Lewis guns which, I think, shows 
better than an y words how well we did 
in the retreat. 
uly 22. Filthy wet day, spent in taking 
over Reserve Line from T.O., who returns 
to Horse Lines. The threat of attack still 
hangs over us in a state of suspended anima- 
tion. 
uly 2 3 . Poured all day; oaked and 
td up. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 69 
J«ly 2 4. Day goes on leave, so I took 
over his work in the line, chiefly concrete 
pill-boxes. Thus ends my test. Blessed is 
he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not 
be disappointed. Did a good night's work 
under a beautiful moon and met the Major 
in the morning before dawn ta reconnoitre 
some wire. 
uly 2 5. Derry went sick again, so we 
are now as badly off as ever. Doing four 
men's work and had a very rushed day. 
Why the devil don't they send us rein- 
forcements ? 
uly 26. Four hours' sleep and off up the 
line againAthe first Americans came within a 
few toiles of the line to-day. I think we bave 
just about weathered the storm without them. 
uly 27. Four hours' sleep, then spent 
the morning on Brigade H.Q., afternoon on 
the Reserve Line, paid the company, and 
spent all night on wiring and completion 
of No.  Pill-box. 



70 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
.Tuly 28. Our sister company went over 
last night to destroy wire for a raid. They 
collared two Huns, so that the real raid 
never came off and was unnecessary. Good 
work. 
.Tuly 2 9. Completed No. 2 Pill-box. 
Work well on with Brigade H.,O.. and put 
up 3oo yards of wire at Reserve Line. 
Tv,,o of our drivers and three of the best 
horses were killed last night. It is difficult 
to make comparisons where all men are so 
wonderful, but as an example of the purest 
form of stolid courage I think the limber 
driver is unique. In a place like this there 
is never more than one decent road, and in 
consequence it is packed from dusk to dawn 
with every conceivable form of wheeled trans- 
port. Food, water, ammunition, guns, voire, 
and everything else which the linesman 
needs, must pass along this solitary lane, and 
the German knows it. The shell-fire is 
seldom heavy, as the line knows it, but it 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 7 
is persistent, wearing, and of the most deadly 
accuracy. A very favourite trick is to shell 
some point on the road and thus compel 
traffic to wait. In rive minutes they know 
that there will be a solid column of wagons 
on the far side of the block, and then they 
lengthen range--preferably with shrapnel. 
Then it is llke all hell let loose. Hall a 
dozen shells among those crowded limbers 
can do the most terrific damage, and men 
and horses go down together in a welter of 
blood and flying red-hot steel. Mules and 
horses go mad, and scream and kick, the 
harness breaks, they climb into the limbers, 
ammunition explodes, and in a few seconds 
there is nothing but a mass of wreckage 
in the ditch and the cries of wounded men 
and dying horses. 
Go through that and worse twice a night, 
every night for a month and more, and at 
the end when you take the reins in the 
evening your hand will quiver and your 



72 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
feet vill tremble in the stirrups. And still 
they go without a munnur, night after night, 
until a merciful shell shall take them too, 
and they leave the saddle for ever. Each 
night they see the last night's wreckage, and, 
if times are very bad, file unburied bodies 
of their one-time pals grinning at the stars 
until Time and the rats bave done their 
work. And always they know their time 
will corne, so that to me at least it is an 
eternal marvel how they find file strength 
to go. Perhaps some thought of home, some 
pride of England drives them on, or flae 
memory of some dearly loved, dead oflïcer 
sitting quietly on a mule among those 
shrieking shells and telling them not to 
leave their horses. But who can tell ?mthey 
do it, and England gains! 
One thing is certain, they get no medals, 
for there are no S taff Oflîcers along these 
howling roads at night. 
uly 3 o. For the first time since wc havc 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 73 
been here our billets vere heavily shelled 
this afternoon. I had great wind up, as 
I was upstairs in my canvas bath and two 
or three splinters came through the wall. 
There are some Americans near us, and as 
this was their first touch of shell-fire it was 
quite amusing to see them falling over each 
other in their efforts to get away across 
the fields. Beryl, our terrier bitch, presented 
us with seven puppies of every breed and 
colour--the little harlot ! 
The Americans had their first night in 
charge of an infantry working party and I 
went up to their line to bave a look at them. 
It was a pathetic sight, and when they came 
back in the morning they reported being 
shelled off the job and that hall the men's 
clothes v,'ere eut to pieces by shrapnel. 
Combination of wind up, imagination, and 
loose barbed wire on a dark night. 
.uly 3 t. Put up 500 yards of wire t 
Reserve Line. Second party of Americans 



74 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
arrived. Bosche plane came over very low 
in the evening and spotted our billets and 
the guns round us. He got away through 
terrific machine-gun tire, but we heard 
later that he came down over the lines in 
flamesmpoor beggars ! 
/««g. I. Billets shelled again, and thought 
we were hit several times. Another daring 
Bosche came over in the evening but was 
brought down over the lines. Our sister 
company pulled out of the line to prepare 
for an attack, so again we are doing a two- 
Brigade front. 
/lug. 2. Got soaked to the skin scrambling 
round Right Brigade trenches and was 
quite worn out as I had to wear my respirator, 
all the timeMghastly night, with continuous 
shell-fire and casualties all over the place. 
/lug. 3- Had great difficulty in getting 
material, as they shelled our dump all night 
long. It is very hard to order men to go to 
a place when you know that it is being 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 75 
steadily shelled, and yet the work has to 
be done. So much easier for the Staff, 
who just say, " Do it," and then leave the 
details and the casualties to me. At 3.30 
a.m. met the Major and took him round 
the line to see our troubles. Coming back 
alone 
z¢«g. 4- over the ridge just before 
dawn I got dead in line with a German 
M.G. firing straight down the road. I 
don't think it was clear enough for them to 
see me, but the bullets whizzed past first 
on my left side and then on my right. 
I had to lie down for several minutes and 
watch them kicking up sparks on the road 
a few yards aheadmost unpleasant, and 
I round it another indication that my nerves 
are slowly giving out. 
lug. 5. Heavy barrage in reply to a raid 
by the Division on our right interfered with 
work and caused several casualties among 
the carrying parties. 



76 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
.,4ug. 6. The men had a night's rest, but 
I was out ai1 night with two sappers laying 
out tapes and notice boards in preparation 
for the attack on the 8th. Several rimes we 
had to go well out into No Man's Land, 
and once I was quite lost for about hall 
an hour. 
Aug. 7. Was out all night trying to get 
some work out of the Americans, but round 
it a hard job as they :are not yet accustomed 
to working under shell and machine-gun 
tire, and are very nervous. Among out own 
men I would have considered their behaviour 
rank mutiny, but I kept them at it until 
3 a.m. and got I So yards done. Have never 
been so unpopular or so violenfly cursed in 
my Iife before. 
In the course of the wire we came across 
a shell-hole with a mule and three rotting 
Frenchmen in it, and the Americans were 
very worried that they had hot been buried! 
Poor devils, they have a lot to learn. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 77 

THE MERRYWAY ATTACK 

The events that follo»v are necessarily 
somewhat confused, both from their own 
nature and from the fact that I »vas not able 
to set them down until some ten days after 
they occurred. They fell out somewhat as 
follows:m 
The Merryway had once been a decent 
road, but after the fighting in June there 
was little left but a shattered track running 
at right angles to the main lines of trenches. 
The Huns had pushed out a very consider- 
able salient on both sides of this track, and 
as their ground was rather higher than ours 
they were able to make life very unpleasant 
for every one around them. 
With the threat of more German attacks 
still hanging over us and the men quite 
worn out, the Staff decided that we must 
keep up out morale by trying to lower that 
of the Huns. An attack on the lkIerryway 



78 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Salient was decided upon as the best way 
of doing this. 
Accordingly one Infantry Brigade and 
one Field Coy. R.E. went over on the 
night of August 8th, and under cover of 
a terrific bombardment surprised the Ger- 
mans and gained practically all their objec- 
tives. All was quiet for two days, the Field 
Coy. put up quantities of barbed wire 
and the Staff went to sleep to dream of 
medals. 
The morning of the 1 I th was cold and 
misty, and to our great consternation the 
Huns delivered a very heavy counter-attack. 
This was quite successful, and we were all 
driven back with the exception of one 
post which held out on the Merryway. 
Here about 3 ° Huns got held up against 
our wire and all surrendered, although most 
of the men wanted to shoot, because we 
were too weak to find an escort. However 
we sent them back with two men, but 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 79 
seeing that our flanks were gone and how 
weak the escort was, they strangled the 
two men and joined the fight. Everything 
was now completely mixed up, the gray- 
coated figures were all around, and odd 
groups of men were fighting detached battles 
for their own skins against heavy odds. 
Our telephone wire was cut, and rockets 
were useless because of the mist; the casual- 
ries were heavy, and it looked as if the line 
would go. Then I saw Bradley, a fearsome 
sight, with a piece of his scalp hanging over 
his ear and his face covered with blood, 
trying to ollect some men. I joined him, 
and we got a few together and went forward 
again. In technical language I suppose we 
led a charge or counter-attack, but it never 
struck me in that way at all, and I'm sure 
we had no clear idea what we intended to do. 
Bradley was mad, and we went at the 
first group of Huns we saw. There was a 
tussle, we killed two and the rest surrendered. 



80 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Bradley collared one of these himself, a 
poor miserable kid not more than twenty, 
and I remember the sight of him put heart 
into us ail. 
In all we got forward about two hundred 
yards and got in touch with the Merryway 
post, although, of course, we were still a 
long way behind our original line. 
This restored the line a little, and instead 
of pushing through the gaps on either side 
of us the Huns hesitated a litfle and finally 
dug in about 5 ° yards away. Ail the 
infantry oflîcers were killed and every one 
was out of touch, so that the Huns were not 
followed up. During the day reliefs came 
up, and at night Brigade reported that we 
held a line of posts in touch with one another 
about half-way between our first and second 
positions. 
I went up with a few men and some material 
to try to consolidate the position, but when 
I got to Merryway post everything was in 



A 8OLDIER'S DIARY 8t 
absolute chaos and there was only a sergeant 
and six men in the post and absolutely at 
their last gasp. Apparenfly they had been 
attacked again during the day, and had only 
just kept off the Huns after suffering heavy 
casualties from trench mortars. It was 
obvious the Huns thought a lot of this 
post, and I felt sure they would try to take 
us during the night. I put all my men 
on and tried to strengthen the place with 
sandbags, and made it a little deeper by 
lifting some bodies out of the bottom. I 
had 19 men with .5o rounds each and  
Lewis gun with several thousand rounds-- 
this I placed at the end of the trench to 
tire up the track. 
About I1.3o we were shelled heavily 
without sustaining casualties, and imme- 
diately afterwards a crowd of infantry-- 
about oo I think--made a dash at us, 
chiefly down the old track. The Lewis 
gun opened at once, and I was terrified to 
F 



82 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
find that the Huns had a gun on our flank 
which was shooting straight at our gun 
and right into the trench. The gunner 
was killed at once and Cox wounded, so 
that the gun was silent. Then the infantry 
sergeant took it and was shot dead imme- 
diately. I shouted to the men to keep 
shooting at the infantry in front and I 
took the Lewis gun myself and turned it 
round at the German gun. I waited for 
him to shoot, and then fired at the flash 
and silenced lim. I noticed that the men's 
firing had died down, and on looking to 
the front I was relieved to see that the first 
attack »vas beaten off--we must have killed 
a lot, as they were right against the skyline- 
and there were a lot of them moaning 
about in front. I felt certain we could 
hold t.hem if we could keep their gun quiet, 
so for the next twenty minutes we worked 
like fiends to raise some protection across 
the open end of the trench. Then they 



A SOLDIERS DIARY 83 

came again in a sudden rush, but I must 
have damaged their gun, and without that 
to help them we could turn our gun right 
into them and easily h,zld them off. A 
small party sneaked close up to us on the 
left avay from the gun and threw some 
bombs right into us, blowing an infantry- 
man to bits and wounding a sapper. Then 
they shelled us steadily for hall an hour 
and got one of the look-out men in the 
shoulder--another rifle useless. At this point 
we had our one piece of luck--found a rum 
jar with just enough in it to give each man 
a mouthful--it put new heart into us and 
helped us more than twenty reinforcements. 
Everything went quiet for a time, and in 
thinking things over I had an awful job 
to keep myself under control. The men 
were wonderful, but there were only 13 
of us left and fully 200 Huns all round. 
During the lull Cox died in my arms--he 
was very gaine, but just before the end he 



84 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
sobbed like a child : "My wife and kiddie, 
oh God! sir, what's going to happen to 
them?--poor kid, poor kid." And so he 
died. 
Shortly afterwards they carne at us again, 
and thank God none of us realised how 
rnany there were. On the right where the 
gun was we held them off again, but we 
were hopelessly outnurnbered, and a Gerrnan 
officer and a srnall party actually got into 
our trench at the other end. I heard the 
row and, leaving the gun with Willis, was 
just in tirne to see a man kill the officer 
with his bayonet and the others cleared 
off again. They were very close all round 
us now, and as we could see nothing I told 
the rnen to keep their arnrnunition and then 
split thern up, some to shoot forward and 
sorne to shoot back. I was frightened that 
we should be bornbed, and surely enough 
they started, but the throwing was rotten. 
And then once rnore they tried us. A 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 85 
bomb came right in the trench and laid out 
two more men, splashing me with blood. 
We shot like fiends and the gun was nearly 
red-hot, but they were too many. About 
eight men got into the trench and then we 
ail went mad. It would be impossible for 
me to give an accurate description because 
there was just one tierce wild tussle, they 
trying to get at Willis and that blessed gun 
and we trying to keep them off. We were 
too mixed to shoot ; they used a sort of life- 
preserver and we used our bayonets taken 
off the rifles. A German about my own 
size slipped into the trench behind me and 
I just turned in time to duck under a swing 
from his preserver. What I was doing I 
shall never know, but by instinct I got my 
left hand on his throat, and before I knew 
what had happened I had got the bayonet 
dagger-wise a good six inches into his chest. 
He went down without a groan. There 
was no one in front of me and I turned to 



86 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
find a big Hun with his back to me and a 
life-preserver raised to hit McDonald, who 
had his back to the Hun, over the head. 
If I had had sense I would have stuck the 
bayonet into his back, but I was absolutely 
wild and dropped it. Before the Hun could 
strike I got my hands on his throat and we 
fell down together. I fell underneath but 
got on top and pressed until I thought my 
fingers would break. He was terribly strong 
and once scratched a great piece out of my 
left cheek. Gradually he weakened, and 
I kept my fingers in his throat until he 
died. 
Much the same thing had happened to 
all the other men except one, who got badly 
mauled about the head and died shortly 
afterwards. For a moment I felt we could 
fight the whole German army, especially 
when I saw McDonald smash in a German 
head with the rum jar. Now the survivors 
were shouting for help, but that blessed Willis 



A 8OLDIER'S DIARY 87 
(ex jail-bird) was sitting with the gun out 
in the open, regardless of everything, swear- 
ing like hell, and none of the I/uns seemed 
anxious to accept the invitation. We were 
ail clean crazy, and I even had a job to keep 
the men in the trench. McDonald said 
something about Cox's missus, and wanted 
to kill ten of the " bloody bastards." 
During the whole of that bloody night 
my hardest job was to restrain the men in 
that moment of semi-victory; for it was 
still two hours until dawn. Nine out of 
the nineteen of us were either dead or dying, 
and all the rest of us were damaged in some 
way. Throughout the whole night I had 
never thought ofanything but death. Relief, 
I knew, was impossible--if we surrendered 
they would kill us, and I never dreamed that 
we could really hold them off till dawn. 
Writing now, it would be easy to imagine 
impressions whicla I never really experi- 
enced, but I can safely say that througlaout 



88 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
the whole night I calmly regarded myself 
as a dead man. It seemed quite natural 
that I should be, and I can't remember that 
I had the slightest regret. It even seems 
now that in some queer way I was distinctly 
happier and more tranquil than I had ever 
been in my life before. I felt nobler, 
mightier, than any human being on earth, 
and death seemed welcome as the only 
fitting end. Recalling some of my previous 
entries on the subject of war, I cannot 
understand my feelings on this occasion 
and can only repeat that it was somperhaps 
something of 

" The stern joy which warriors feel 
In foemen worthy of their steel." 

It was therefore almost with a feeling of 
annoyance, of having been cheated of some- 
thing, that I saw the first streaks of gray 
beyond Kemmel. I thought they would 
still make a last effort and waited, but we 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 89 
shivered in vain. In the semi-light we 
managed to get an odd shot at some of them 
who had been behind us as they went 
round to the front--we shot two or three 
more this way. Then I left my sergeant 
in charge and went back for a crawl to see 
what I could find. It was al,nost light 
now, and after about half an hour I came 
across a picket. They firmly believed we 
we were all dead, and said so, and once 
more that odd feeling of annoyance returned. 
I remembered that during the night I had 
visualised the Brigade report on the whole 
business: "Their Lewis gun was heard 
firing until early in the morning but it was 
impossible to reach them." 
However, I went back, left some fresh 
men in the post and brought my fellows out, 
leaving orders for the dead to be brought 
down during the day if possible. As we 
went back past Brigade I dropped in to 
report. The General had apparently been 



90 A $OLDIER'S DIARY 
up all night and looked very worried. He 
insisted on seeing the men. They were 
lying in the mud outside, bleeding and 
swearing--an awful but a sublime picture. 
He was deeply moved, and several times under 
lais breath I heard him say, " Marvellous, 
marvellous, wonderful." Afterwards, I was 
told that there were tears în his eyes when 
he went back into the dug-out. He has 
had an awful time, poor beggar. 
,4ug.  2. Had my face dressed and slept 
like a baby during the day. At night 
Brigade reported once more that -vve held 
a line of connected posts, and again we went 
out to try to strengthen them. My party 
started to wire the Merryway post and 
barricade the road, and Day went forward 
vith a party on the right. When he got 
forward to where our wire should bave 
been he found a German party well dug-in-- 
fully co yards more forward than they 
were expected to be. They turned a gun 



A 80LDIER'S DIARY 
on Day's party and threw about a dozen 
bombs at them but he got all his fellows 
back with only two casualties, and these 
were brought in later. On my side the 
covering party were so nervous as to be 
absolutely useless, so I sent them back, and 
after that my own revolver was the only 
cover which the men had. 
I was crawling about some 5o yards in 
front of the party when a light went up 
and I spotted three Huns crouching in a 
shell-hole with a machine-gun. I had no 
bornbs, so I went back and told the infantry 
oflïcer, but he wouldn't do anything. We 
ceased work about 5 yards away from 
them. 
We found the mutilated body of an in- 
fantry officer who was killed on the t t th 
and brought it in. 
On calling at H.Q. on the way back 
we were informed, as we now knew to 
our cost, that our posts were all much farther 



9z A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
back than was at first thought, and in some 
places the Huns were even on the near 
side of our wire. But for our great good 
luck in getting bombed we should pro- 
bably have gone out and wired be- 
tween the German outposts and their 
main line. 
I have seldom known the line tobe in a 
more chaotic state, and I think one more 
attack would just about put us beyond the 
count. Every one is nervous, and no one 
knows where anybody else is. 
z¢ug. 13- Went out after dusk with an 
infantry subaltern to try to get in touch 
with a post reported to be on the left of the 
Merryway post. We groped about without 
success and eventually saw about OEo figures 
moving about in one of the camps behind 
us. They were not more than 3 ° yards 
away, so we took them for men from the 
post we were in search of and did not 
challenge. Presently they began to move 



A SOLDIER'S DIAR 93 
away down the hedge towards the German 
lines, and my companion remarked that 
they were going a long way forward, as a 
German post was known to exist at the 
corner. Almost immediately afterwards they 
began to run and disappeared into a trench 
about 5o yards away. $oon after this we 
found our own post, and they reported 
having no men out and having seen no one ! 
There was only one possible conclusion-- 
we had been in close touch with a strong 
German patrol which had been moving 
about with the greatest audacity at least 5 ° 
yards behind our lines. Very unpleasant 
to think about. 
Then we took a few of the better men 
and went out on a hunt, but found nothing. 
It was impossible to wire because of very 
frequent lights and heavy machine-gun tire. 
On the right of the track we could find 
neither Huns nor our own people, and it 
appears that Brigade H.Q. don't really 



94 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
know anything about the situation at ail. 
It i.r in a mess. About 3 a.m. the Huns 
put down a heavy barrage but didn't corne 

OVCF, 
/g-  4- 
in six weeks. 

Had a night in bed--the third 
Heard that my infantry friend 
was killed, just after I left, by our own 
shrapnel bursting short. 
Hear also that I have been recommended 
for a D.S.O. for the scrap the other night. 
This is the second time, and it is now some 
comfort tobe definitely sure that they will 
never give it me. 
I would like to get something just for my 
father's sake, but for myself--I should almost 
hate it. 
We are here to do a.job, not to earn medals 
for the sake of being gushed over by silly, 
simpering women who could never under- 
stand. 
Itis a hard creed and difficult to stand 
by at times--vanity is very strong. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 95 
The following shows roughly some of 
the main points in the Merryway fighting. 
4ug. I S. S tarted to wire from the barri- 
cade towards the right in order to join up 
with Day, who was working from the 
other end. Got to our first post but could 
get no farther, as there was a strong German 
post across our line. Day bumped into 
this from the other side, and was driven off 
with two casualties. I was lying down 
listening when the Huns fired into Day 
and was surprised to find I was not ten yards 
away from them. They sent up a light, 
and I could see about ten of them as plainly 
as daylight, all looking along their rifles. 
I dropped a bomb into them and departed, 
but if we had known they were there we 
could bave collared the whole lot. 
.,4ug. I6. Was relieved at Merryway and 
spent the night wiring in the right sector-- 
quite a rest cure. 
lug. 17. Wiring again in front of 



96 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
County Camp. Shelled off the job 
three times and had two casualties, so 
decided to work the wood instead--shelled 
again. 
Aug. I8. Quiet night in the wood. 
Slowly and surely I ara breaking up, and 
now I ana so far gone that it is too much 
trouble to go sick. I ara just carrying on 
like an automaton, mechanically putting 
up wire and digging ditches while I wait, 
wait, wait for something to happenrelief, 
death, wounds, anything, anything in earth 
or hell to put an end to this, but preferably 
death. I ara becoming hypnotised with the 
idea of Nirvanasweet, eternal nothingness. 
My body crawls with lice, my rags are 
saturated with blood, and we ail " stink 
like the essence of putrefaction rotting for 
the third time." 
And there are ladies at home who still 
call us heroes and talk of the Glory of War 
Christ ! 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 97 

" If the lice were in their hair, 
And the scabs were on their tongue, 
And the rats were smiling there 
Padding softly through the dung. 
Would they still adjust their pince-nez 
In the saine old urbane way 
In the gallery where the ladies go ? " 

Last night something went wrong in my 
head. A machine-gun was turned on us, 
and instead of ducking I remember standing 
up and being quite interested in watching 
the bullets kick sparks off the wiremDay 
pulled me down into a hole and bas been 
watching me ever since. 
If ever again I hear any one say any- 
thing against a man for incapacitating him- 
self in any way to get out of this I will kill 
that man. Not even Ahnighty God can 
understand the effort required to force one- 
self back into the trenches at night--I 
would shoot myself if it were not for the 
G 



98 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
thought of my fathermO God! why won't 
you kill me ? 
" To these from birth is Belief forbidden. 
From these till Death is Relief afar." 

And the pity of it all is thismthat nobody 
will ever understand ! It is hell to be able 
to see these things, but in two years I know 
it will all be forgotten. " It is over," they 
will say, " we must forget it, it was so 
terrible." The world will go back into the 
old grooves, without honour, without hero- 
ism, without ideals, and these dear, darling 
fellows of mine will be " factory men " once 
more. 
Even now Hardy's sister is selling matches 
in Ancoats, and my sister would refer to ber 
as " that woman "--yet Hardy and ] have 
saved each other's lives. And if I live they 
will say " Poor old beggar, he isn't much 
use now, he had rather a bad rime in the 
war," and they will pity me--once a month 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 99 
when I ara iii. Or, worst of ail, if my 
vitality should corne back to a certain extent 
I will appear quite normal and they will 
call me a slacker if I don't take part in games 
--I, who once captained one of the best 
Rugby teams in the north ! Perhaps they 
will even be so good as to make allowances 
for me! 
And they will call me dull and morose 
and cynical--and even priggish when I 
keep myself aloof from them. 
And the ladies for whom I gave my 
strength and more will leave me for the 
healthy, bouncing beggars who stayed at 
homeeven as nationally the Neutrals get 
the good things now. And there are thou- 
sands worse than Imay we ail die together 
in one final bloody holocaust and before 
the Peace Bells usher in the realisation of 
our fears. 
And then, on howling winter evenings, 
our spirits might ride the cloud-wrack over 



xoo A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
these blood-soaked hill, shrieking and moan- 
ing with the wind, to drown the music of 
their dancing, so that they huddle together 
in terror, the empty-headed women and 
the weak-kneed, worn-out men as we laugh 
at their petty, soulless lires. 
Within a week I shall be dead or mad. 
ztug. 19" Very hot to-day--feeling fever- 
ish and weak--what futile words ! 
/ag. 20. Division on our right attacked 
and captured objectives. Three lines in the 
Daily Mail to-morrowmthree hundred 
corpses grinning at the stars to-nightmin 
three years oblivion--War ! 
ztug. 2. Working on Ferret Farm. On 
way up Fritz got six shells bang into the 
middle of the parties in the sunken road-- 
one sapper and several P.B.I. hit and 
Day badly damaged in the face with a 
stone. 
The limber horses behaved wonderfully, 
and one team didn't move an inch although 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY xo 
a shell burst right under their tail board. 
Very lucky not to have had lots more 
casualties. On the track we were shelled 
again and had to pass through heavy gas 
in the region of the stream. Almost imme- 
diately after starting work Bosche put down 
a heavy barrage and we lay on our faces 
for three-quarters of an hour. Heavy shel- 
ling continued all night with a lot of machine- 
gun tire and gas. Was busy with casualties 
all night and feel like a corpse myself now. 
Aug. 22. Beastly hot day and was 
tortured to death in the evening by mos- 
quitoes--during this warm weather one 
usually knocks about in the day-time in 
one's shirt which becomes saturated with 
sweat, and then dries off again in the cool 
of the evening--the mosquitoes love the 
stink and after dusk they feed on us in 
millions--there is no respite, you grow tired 
of killing them and dawn finds you on the 
edge of insanity, swollen like a long-dead 



o2 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 

mule. It is these things which constitute 
the horror of war--death is nothing. 
Wrote a cheerful letter home saying that 
I ana very well and happy. 
/Iug. 23. Was riding up last night through 
a strafe with Day when a gas shell exploded 
just in front of out bicycles--we jumped 
off at once but before we could get our 
bags on we swallowed rather a large dosera 
didn't worry very much and carried on with 
the night's work. 
/Iug. 24. In the morning bust up com- 
pletely and spent the day in bed--pulled 
myself together and managed to get up 
the line again at night. 
/Iug. 25. Riding home this morning we 
encountered a sudden whizz-bang strafe on 
the road, and Day took a small fragment 
clean through his handle-bars--rained hard 
all night and practically stopped work. 
/Iug. 26. Still raining heavily, and we 
notice the first signs of the return of the 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY xo3 

mud eramsurely they must relieve us now 
if there is a man to spare in France or 
Englandmotherwise, I ara afraid a week of 
heavy tain would clear the road to Calais. 
For myself, I ara too far gone to pick the 
lice out of my shirtmI have ceased to be a 
man--even my simian ancestors used to 
remove their parasites. 
_/lug. 27. Still raining hard, but news 
cornes through that we are going tobe 
relievedmas I ara the only oflîcer that 
really knows the forward work I ara to 
stay and hand over--only three more nights ! 
z'/«g. 28. Very busy day handing over 
all rear work to relieving companymthe 
attached infantry parties returned to their 
units to-day. 
ug. 29. Company transport left at IO 
a.m. for Rest Areamthe Sappers marched 
off at 1.3o p.m. To-night is tobe my last 
night in the line, I hope, for a fortnight at 
least. 



'o4 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
dug. 3 o. Oddly enough, my last night 
was one of the most eventful spent in the 
sector. It was a misty night, and I was 
crawling about with the relieving officer 
to show him Day's front line Coy. H.Q., 
when we were shelled fairly heavilymto avoid 
the disturbance I ruade a detour of about 
oo yards and got completely lost. Eventu- 
ally we heard muffted voices behind us, 
and to my surprise, when I crawled back 
to investigate, I round a Hun machine-gun 
post with about six men in it. 
We avoided this and eventually struck 
our own line about a quarter of a toile out 
of our coursemthey handled us rather roughly 
in the trench as they believed us to be 
Bosche, particularly as my friend knew 
nothing about the line. After sitting for 
twenty minutes with two bayonets in my 
ribs, Miller of the Fusiliers came up and 
fortunately he knew me. Just managed to 
complete handing over before dawn and 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
got back for breakfast with our reliefs. 
Left billets on horseback with Dausay as 
groom at  .45- Passed through reserve 
billets and had an afternoon halt to water 
the horses in a charming meadow just beyond 
Cassell. We reached the company about 
6 p.m. at a small village outside St. Omerm 
a very pleasant but a tiring ride. 
Da)" and I are living in a large white 
château--steeped in romance from its turrets 
to its, no doubt, well-stocked cellars. Out- 
side my bedroom window there is a balcony 
where I can sit in the evenings and watch 
the sun set beyond St. Orner--if only I had 
my books I might recapture myself in a 
fortnight here. 
Sept. t. Quiet day, with the usual inspec- 
tions and cleaning parades. In the evening 
Major and I rode over to take dinner with 
the C.R.E.--information had just corne 
through that our outposts are on the top of 
Kemmel Hill. Apparently the Huns have 



o6 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
retreated, but it makes me damn wild to 
think that we should hold that blood-soaked 
line and wear down his resistance for other 
people to follow him up--I would have sold 
my soul to see the old Division go over Kem- 
mel, and if any one had the right it was we. 
Seït. 2. Went into St. Orner with Day and 
had tea at the club--succeeded in obtaining 
some butter at 15 francs per kiloverily the 
French are a hospitable people ! Returned 
to the mess to find the rumour about Kemmel 
is confirmed--apparently the Bosche are 
evacuating forward positions with a view 
to consolidating their line for the winter. 
This is all very cheerful and no doubt makes 
good reading in the clubs at home, but 
unfortunately it necessitates our return to 
the line to-morrow--our test has therefore 
been a deal of extra trouble for nothing-- 
two days out of the line do one more harm 
than good. Transport and pontoons started 
on their return journey to-night. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY xo7 
Sept. 3" Entrained at 8. I 5 a.m. and 
detrained at rail-head about 2 noon. 
Marched forward past our old billets and 
eventually took over very comfortable billets 
from a company of American Engineers. 
The line seems to have gone far forward, 
ail the old gun positions are empty and 
the sausages are well in front of us 
nOV¢. 
After all, I think that the ability to park 
our transport in the open in full view of 
Kemmel will do us more good than the 
" rest" could ever have done. The shadow 
of that ghastly hill has been over us for so 
long that our relief at having regained it is 
out of all proportion to its practical value. 
The effect on the men has been little short 
of miraculous, and already they are joking 
about the possibilities of Christmas at home 
--or at the worst in Berlin ! Once more we 
look forward to the possibilities of a semi- 
victory, and the dog-like fatalism which 



o8 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
upheld us through the weary summer is 
gradually changing to something like Hope 
and Confidence in the Future. 
But we can never again go forward with 
the saine fiery ardour and implicit faith in 
the Justice of our Cause, which drove us 
onwards in the early days. We have seen 
brave Germans die with faith as great as 
ours, and, knowing their intelligence to be 
hOt less, »ve must at least doubt the validity 
of our first conclusions. Now we are 
infinitely wiser men, growing sadder as 
the cold light of reason destroys out early 
phantoms of enthusiasm. Already " the 
bones about the way " are far too numerous 
to justify the best of possible results and-- 
there will be more before the end. 
But these reflections are morbid and un- 
becoming in a soldier--to-morrow I must 
inspect rifles with enthusiasm. 
Sett. 4. Day and I working all day on 
our dug-out and in making a place where 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY lO9 

we can have a bath--I shudder when I try 
to recall my last one. 
Sett" 5. Up at 2 a.m. and working until 
I o with the whole company endeavouring 
to construct a road across a semi-dry lake. 
It is obviously a staff project and would 
bave been condemned by a first year civil- 
engineering student--we cast our brick upon 
the waters in the vain hope that it will return 
after man y days. 
Meanwhile the advance creeps forward 
across the swamps in front and shows signs 
of being bogged as the resistance stiffens. 
Yesterday our two line brigades had 500 
casualties, and after gaining the summit of 
Messines Ridge they had to fall back owing 
to lack of support. Thus it seems that »ve 
shall play the German gaine once more 
by following t.hem into the worst of the 
mud for the wintermGod help us if we do, 
the 9-year olds would die like flics in a 
hard winter. 



II0 
Had 
man. 
Sept. 6. 

A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
my bath and feel like 

a new 

Dumped a few more tons of 

brick into the lakemat least it is a peaceful 
job and keeps the men out of mischief. 
Played Badminton and wrote letters--the 
war seems to bave fallen into abeyance. 
Sept. 7. Heavy gas-shelling on the lake 
this morning robbed us of our constitutional 
and forced an early return. 
After dinner we turned out with torches 
and heavy sticks to hunt rats round the 
dug-outs. There were no casualties among 
the rats, but Day sprained an ankle. 
Sept. 8. Still brick dumping, although 
no progress is apparent as yet. During the 
morning I walked across the dyke to talk 
to the company working in the morass on 
the far side and sincerely wished I hadn't. 
They had been finding bodies all morning, 
not more than a month dead and just coming 
to the worst stages. Whilst I was there, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY xxx 
they picked up two kilted oflîicers--glorious 
big men they must have been but looking 
so childishly pathetic as they lay there. 
Unconsciously we ail fell silent, and I saw 
a D.C.M. Sergeant-Major with tears in his 
eyes. Hurriedly I turned away and, walking 
back to the men, thanked God that people 
at home can never even imagine the deaths 
their men are called upon to die. 
We are going into the war again to-morrow. 
The rains are with us. 
Sept. 9- Two sections moved into forward 
billets at Negro Farm--an appalling place 
consisting of two stinking dug-outs under 
the ruins of the former homesteadmit beggars 
description but closely resembles that famous 
Bairnsfather drawing, " We are staying at 
a farm." It bas poured all day, and when 
we arrived about eleven this morning there 
wasn't shelter for a quarter of the men 
and none for the horses. I explored two 
or three ruins in the neighbourhood, but 



xt A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
they were all worse than our own midden, 
so we had to rnake the best of it. Fortunately 
the cheerfulness of the rnen seerns to increase 
with their nfisfortunes and they are now 
all under cover of sorne sort--even the horses 
are more or less protected frorn the worst 
of the weather. 
My home consists of three battered sheets 
of corrugated iron, a wagon cover, and the 
back of a hen shed, reared rniraculously 
against a bank of earth which is the rnain- 
stay of the edifice. Light frorn a candle in 
a port bottle, no H. and C. or rnodern con- 
veniences of any sort. It is cold, darnp, 
miserable, and the headquarters of two 
sections, Royal Engineers. Yet you wouldn't 
offer it to a trarnp at home and a pig v«ould 
scorn it--great are the blessings of civilisa- 
tion ! 
I decided to keep one section in reserve, 
so took No. 3 up the line for night work. 
Arrived very late as all the tracks were 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x*3 
knee-deep in slush and it was dark, dark as 
the inside of an infidel. 
We floundered around for several hours, 
but it was quite impossible to do anything 
in the nature of serious work--the line was 
new to us, and the difficulty of finding the 
posts was increased by persistent machine-gun 
tire and the most devilish weather imaginable. 
The ground was in an awful state, and it 
often took us twenty minutes to move a 
hundred yards--the men swore sublimely 
and their humour was the only dryness in 
the night. 
On the return journey we struck some 
unpleasant shell-fire, and mud wallowed with 
enthusiasm. Browning anticipated the Great 
War when he wrote 

" Vill sprawl 
Fiat on his belly in the pit's much mire,, 
With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his 
chin, 



114 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
And, while he kicks both feet in the cool 
slush, 
And feels about lais spine small eft-things 
course, 
Run in and out each arm, and make him 
laugh." 

Twice we got lost in the woods and finally 
I had to give up all hope of finding the lake 
track. We returned the long way, but even 
so the tracks were knee-deep and I could 
feel the water trickling in over the tops of 
my field boots. Sometimes it would be 
such a relief if only one could cry ! 
The men had a drop of rum when we got 
back, and it was about 4 a.m. when I crawled 
into my flea bag. A family of beetles 
played, " Come and sit on my chair " across 
my toes, and an old brown rat wanted to 
keep me company. I turned him out three 
rimes, but the poor devil was so persistent 
and so pathetic that finally I let him stop. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x5 
Immediately I fell asleep he came and 
stroked my hair in gratitude and I, mis- 
understanding his intentions, turned him 
out for good and all. But bave you ever 
tried to sleep in your soaking wet clothes, 
with your head two feet under a sheet of 
corrugated iron on which it is raining 
barri? I tried, but the rain and the 
beefles were against me. I got up, and 
the morning and the evening were the first 
day. 
Sept. t o. Still raining; and we spent 
another awful night in the outpost line. 
Our own t S-pounders were shooting so 
short that some of the shells were actually 
falling behind us and once we had to lie 
on the Bosche side of the parapet to get 
cover from the,-n. The weather is our most 
dangerous foe now, and all wiring etc. is 
stopped until we can make some sort of 
protection for the line troops. They are 
going down like files, there isn't a dug-out 



6 A SOLDIEP'S DIAPY 
worth the name in the whole sector, and 
the water, already a foot deep in the best 
posts, is increasing hourly. 
Sept. II. Another terrible night--it is 
still raining and we have been soaked 
through now for four days and nights. 
Most of the companies are down to hall 
strength and trench-foot is very prevalentmit 
is as much as most of the men can do to carry 
two sheets of iron per night for their own 
protection. Out own billets are flooded 
now and we are knee-deep in mud every- 
wheremthe horses feel it more than we do 
and I bave had to send them back. 
We had to shift their position every three 
or four hours to prevent them sinking, and 
it has been so bitterly coldthere is no 
protection from this biting wind as it howls 
and shrieks across the swamps and mud iîelds. 
But one thinks of the line, for it is always 
the line, poor devils, who get it worst-- 
they could tell Dante many things. 



A $OLDIER'$ DIARY x7 
There are men up there who have not 
been under a shelter of any description 
during a week of almost continuous rain-- 
they have forgotten what it is to feel dry, 
and their minds are dull and stupid with the 
cold and misery of it all--they have slept 
fitfully, wakening under the necessity of 
shifting their position to avoid the mud 
or when an unusually tierce downpour has 
stung their faces--and during the whole 
of this time no warm food or drink has 
passed their lips. Small wonder that they 
die--with gratitude. 
Sept. 9_. It is two feet deep on our best 
main road, and we had a wild fight last 
night to get the necessary material up for 
the shelters--an unlucky shell killed two 
men, wounded three, and knocked out two 
mules. In spite of this we did a good night's 
work and erected fourteen shelters. The men 
seem to realise how much depends on them, 
and I bave seldom seen them work so well. 



8 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Sept. 1 3. Heavy shelling on roads and 
tracks disorganised all parties and interfered 
with work. I was hit in the middle of the 
back with a large fragment which bruised 
me badly. 
If I stumbled and fell once last night 
I fell twenty times--we use three-quarters 
of our strength in fighting through the 
mud and the remaining quarter in actual 
work. We were so tired last night that I 
tried the short way back again through the 
woods. Once we stumbled on a colony of 
rats, feeding on the sodden corpse of a 
Frenchman. I shuddered involuntarily as 
they scattered away, screaming, and then 
turned to watch us with beady, malevolent 
eyes. The last time I was home on leave 
I remember my mother asked me why 
the trench rats were so big. I nearly told 
ber, but then it occurred to me that I might 
be " missing " myself and the thought would 
have driven her mad--so I said it was 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 119 
because of the food we used to throw over 
the top. God help the mothers who really 
know these things. 
Derry crocked up again yesterday and 
went to hospital. 
Sept. 14 . It is still raining and we are 
still mud-slinging--would that I had the 
time to describe it all. 
My back was very sore to-day and I 
could hardly raise my right arm on account 
of the smack I received last night. 
The morale of the men is very low agam, 
but fortunately the weather prevents the 
Huns from doing anything but shell 
tlS. 
Sept. 15. Signs of the weather improving 
at last, but mud is very plentiful and we 
experience great diculty in getting about. 
Artillery and machine-guns were very active 
on both sides last night, and, as we had 
unusually large parties out, I had a very 
worrying time. At one time therc were 



2o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
5 o men bunched together on the road 
for nearly an hour on account of Brigade 
giving wrong orders. It was a great relief 
when we were able to more them and no 
damage had been done--but a mistake like 
that frequently costs twenty lives and no 
one is shot for it. 
About - a.m. I went out in front to 
reconnoitre a line for wire when I came 
across three dead Bosche in a shell-hole. 
One was an enormously fat man, and as I 
was turning him over to cut off his shoulder 
numbers he grunted fiercely like a man 
awakening from a heavy sleep. For a 
moment I was horrified and put my hand 
on my revolver and waited, for perhaps 
half a minute, undecided what to do. Then 
I saw the truth. The noise which had 
startled me was due to the gases of decom- 
position being forced through his mouth 
when I turned him over--another of the 
glories of war ! 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 121 
Sept. 6. A really fine day at last and 
out spirits fise accordingly---our hopes are 
drowning and we have to clutch at the 
flimsiest of straws. 
Last night was very quiet and a lot of 
good work was done. The men went back 
about 4 a.m. and I turned into Battalion H.Q. 
for a pow-wow with the Colonel. As I was 
walking home about hall an hour afterwards 
the Hun put down a very heavy gas-shell 
bombardment, particularly around the track. 
I lay in a hole for hall an hour with my 
mask on and was frightened to death lest 
I should be splashed with some of the 
infernal liquid. The shells were not more 
than IS-pounders, but some of them were 
unpleasantly close. This morning Division 
reports that some 3000 shells came over 
in the half-hour. 
A new oflîcer joined us to-day. He is 
about thirty, wears gold-rimmed glasses, 
and has never seen the war belote. He looks 



I22 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
around with the wonderment of a little child 
and will be an infernal nuisance to us. 
Still, I suppose there are no real men left 
now. 
Sept. 7. Spent the night by myself 
crawling around in front and noting the 
places ,nost in need of wire. I came across 
a German post with four men in it and a 
light machine-gun. They were well for- 
ward, quite isolated and obviously nervous. 
I told the nearest company, but they wouldn't 
do anything, and even looked frightened to 
think that there were rem live Germans so 
near mena. 
A sod splashed down in the trench out- 
side, and I noticed the orderly at the door, 
a lad about eighteen, jump and nearly 
drop his rifle. It all makes one very sad 
if you look back upon the days when there 
would have been a clamour to go and snaffle 
that post. And this is the Division which 
captured and lost one village seven times 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
on one bloody day, and finally held it 
against all attacks with a fifth of its effectives 
on their feet. 
Sept. 8. The men went back into 
reserve billets to-day, but I stayed on with 
the relieving sections. The ground is begin- 
ning to dry again and lire becomes more 
pleasant. 
There is great aerial activity and the Hun 
shoots very much on our roads and back 
areas--surely we are not preparing a 
stunt ? 
Sept. 9- Received orders to return to 
reserve billets as we are going out of the 
line. Spent a busy day handing over work 
and packing up, as the whole company 
moves to-morrow. 
Setst. 2o. Trekked to our new billets in 
reserve, which are ahnost out of the war-- 
even the 6o-pounders are well in front of 
us. Spent a quiet day making cover for 
tlae men, rigging up horse-lines, and generally 



*24 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
settling down. There is more billeting 
accommodation than we bave seen for months 
and, greatest joy of all, we can sleep in our 
pyjamas. 
,geint. 2. Apparently there is some kind 
of a stunt coming off, because we have 
instructions to rest the men as much as 
possible and give them an easy time. Accor- 
dingly we do a little drill, paint our transport, 
clean rifles and ammunition, overhaul ex- 
plosives, etc., etc. 
There is some fascination about" this war 
gaine, some inexplicable grip which it has 
over us. In spite of everything we have gone 
through there is, once more, a thrill of expec- 
tation in the air, and the men seem keener, 
as though looking forward to something. 
No one could hate war more than I do, 
and yet I would be bitterly disappointed if 
sent on leave to-morrow. And if we, of all 
men, can still feel moments of exhilaration, 
can there ever be a League of Nations ? 



A 80LDIER'S DIARY x25 
Sept. 9_2. The usual instruction work and 
overhauling of equipment. Orders came 
through to-day that we are to give the men 
instruction in attack, open warfare, and 
extended order formations. The men enjoy 
it and are cheering up tremendously. 
There are now several new Divisions in 
our area, guns are coming forward and more 
troops arrive every day, all of them apparently 
from the south. They seem fresher and more 
confident than out own men, but they bave 
already had the experience of driving Huns 
before them--we, on the other hand, bave 
been fighting a losing fight with our backs 
to the wall for over seven months. A lot 
of kilted troops arrived to-day. 
Sept. 23 . Had the men out all day 
practising attack formations. It is hard to 
believe that these fiercely rushing groups 
of men are the same troops who were fought 
to a standstill at Kemmel, and held that 
blood-soaked line with such dogged fatalism 



x26 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
through the weary summer. And after 
two or three days' rest they are expected to 
go forward again--a man must feel proud ! 
Sept. 2 4. Training hard. In spite of high 
hopes dashed before, we seeln as keen as 
ever to make another effort. The atmosphere 
seems charged with electricity, more troops 
are pouring in, and the broad-gauge railway 
is up nearly as far as our billets. 
Was recommended again for an M.C.-- 
this time due to appear in the King's Christ- 
mas Honours List. 
Sept. 25. We are still without orders, 
but the attack must be near at hand now 
--expectation and excitement. 
Sept. 26. Received preliminary orders 
that Day and I will take a section each and 
join the Artillery Brigades to make roads 
and bridges for them in the advance. Two 
sections remain in reserve under Cooper. 
Attack before dawn on the 28th. 
Went up to the Brigade to arrange details 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY I27 
and went to bed on return. Roused after 
an hour's sleep to go out with a section to 
repair two forward bridges near the front 
line before daybreak. 
Got about twenty men and miscellaneous 
material on to two pontoon wagons and 
started out in drizzling rain. I sat in the 
front of the first wagon, and as we lumbered 
off into the dark I fell into a sort of reverie. 
I thought lazily of home and of the 28th, 
and the things it might mean, and in my 
mind I went again over the characters of 
the men, the good ones and the doubtful 
ones, and detailed them off for different 
jobs--these and a thousand other thoughts 
wandered idly through my mind, punctuated 
by the jolting of the wagon and the barking 
of the I S-pounders. Then the men began 
to sing, very quietly and sweetly, and the 
rise and fall of their voices seemed to add 
some special significance to the night. We 
made good progress over the bad roads, 



x28 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
stopping occasîonally to check our way or 
adjust a girth. 
Now they were singing " Annie Laurie," 
and I heard Garner say " Damn " under his 
breath. I asked him what was the rnatter 
with thern to-night, and he said, " Dunno, 
sir, but I wish they wouldn't sing like that." 
The rain had developed into a heavy Scotch 
mist which swallowed up the lead driver 
and the rnounted corporal. I shivered under 
my coat, and felt unutterably lonely and 
sa(] o 
At last the wagons stopped and we went 
forward on foot towards the work. We 
bridged three trenches and then carne to 
the main job, a 15-foot span across a swollen 
eek, and hOt more than 400 yards from 
the German lines. For about an hour the 
work went quietly and well and we got an 
arch across the stream in the forrn of an old 
French steel shelter. 
Suddenly there was a short, tierce whine, 



A 8OLDIER'8 DIAR' z29 
Il crash, and a livid burst of flame right in 
the party--three more followed almost in- 
stantaneously and then for a second an 
awful silence. Some one said "Christ !" 
and began to cry gently. Five men were 
killed, three of them practically missing, 
and three badly wounded. By a miracle 
the work was practically undamaged. 
We took the casualties to the wagons and 
returned to the job--how the men worked 
there again I shall never know, but they 
did, and the bridge was across an hour before 
dawn. The suddenness of the shock has 
knocked my nerves to pieces and even as I 
write my hand trembles. 
Looking back now I can see something 
unnatural in the whole of that ride in the 
pontoons--little details were too impressive, 
and there was an almost unhuman beauty 
in the way they sang that song. I am sure 
that some of those men had a vague pre- 
monition of what was coming. 



3o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
Sept. 27. Lay down for a few hours after 
»ve got back, but was unable to sleep. At 
midday I took Nos. 2 and 3 Sections to 
forward billets at Pig-stye Farm, and at 
5 p.m. No. 3 Section moved out again to 
join their Brigade. The company transport 
and reserve sections arrived about 9 p.m. 
Major and I had a final talk together, 
and I turned in about t t p.m. I was nervous 
and excited, and although very tired, slept 
but little. 
Sept. 28. No. OE Section breakfasted at 
2.15 a.m. and were ready on the road at 
3.3 o. Whilst I was inspecting them the 
barrage started on our left for the Belgian 
attack, and the northern sky was bubbling 
with light. 
We reached Brigade H.Ç}. at the château 
about 5.15 and at 5.3o our barrage started 
and the front line troops »vent over. The 
scheme »vas that we »vere to go forward at 
once and make a track passable for 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 3 

8-pounders from their present positions up 
to second jumping-off line. They were 
expected to be there about noon and would 
then be in a position to support the further 
advance of the infantry. Everything de- 
pended on getting the field guns forward 
to support the second attack. 
I left the transport at the château under 
the corporal and led the men forward towards 
a half-dried-up canal which was the first 
break in the road. It was raining heavily. 
It soon became apparent that the Germans 
were maintaining a barrage on this side of 
the canal, and as time was against us we 
had got to go through it. It looked rough 
and ugly and the men were looking at each 
other. For a moment I was tempted--we 
were absolutely alone and it was up to me-- 
nobody could blame us if we didn't go 
through, and in an hour it would probably 
have stopped. We were perhaps rive hundred 
yards from the canal and shells were bursting 



32 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
heavily--there was no cover and at times 
the canal banks were obscured by the fumes 
and smoke from the bursts. Something 
outside a man takes hold of him at these 
rimes and tells him what to do. In half a 
minute I was calmly saying, " Corne on," 
and the men were following in single file, 
about ten paces from man to man. I thought 
we should never get acrossmwe tried to 
run but we kept sticking in the mud and 
bunching together--just like a nightmare. 
Once or twice I looked round and the men 
were grand--two fellows were hit and the 
others dragged them across--then a third 
went down and was picked up by the m,o 
behindmeventually we were under the shelter 
of the canal bank with one man killed and 
two wounded. It was great, and after that 
I felt we could do anything. 
By now we were soaked to the skin, but 
bunches of prisoners were coming back 
and the worst seemed to be over. We worked 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 133 
steadily on the roads under fairly continuous 
shell-fire, and by Io a.m. the track was 
completed. After this the German shell-fire 
weakened as the advance went forward and 
his guns were either taken or forced to with- 
draw. The men were worn out and literally 
covered with mud, so I withdrew to some 
old dug-outs in the canal bank. A message 
was sent for the transport to come forward 
and another one to the company for rum. 
The men had just lit rires and were beginning 
to dry themselves when I received a message 
that the guns had reached their destination 
but our further help was wanted at once. 
At 11.3o the section moved forward again, 
and by 2 p.m. the whole Brigade were 
standing to for action in their new positions. 
The Division moved up into line during 
the afternoon and the advance pushed 
Wytschaete-Messines, and the Warneton line 
are reported captured. 
At 4 p.m. the section returned to the 



134 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
canal, awaiting further orders. The Brigade 
commander æersonally thanked me for 
the day's work. At 4.3 o I received news 
that the transport was stuck somev«here 
behind us, but they were trying to get 
the limber forward with six horses in it 
instead of the normal two--the tool-cart 
had been abandoned. Eventually the 
limbŒEr arrived and then I sent four horses 
back for the tool-cart which arrived about 
6.30 via Ypresmthe roads are in a terrible 
state and will do more than the Huns to 
hold us up. 
At 7.0 the men had a meal--the first since 
2 a.m. this morning--and after that turned 
in to a more than well-earned rest. I went 
over to see the Colonel and learnt that they 
are pushing on over the hills and Comines 
is tobe captured to-morrow. Every one is 
delighted, the show has been a great success 
and casualties are lîght in comæarison with 
dle results--the only trouble is the mud, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 35 
with which we are literally covered from 
head to foot. 
Sept. 2 9. Out rations arrived about 5 
a.m., but no forage for the horses, and we 
were unable to move forward in conse- 
quencewmy biggest trouble is going to be 
to keep in touch with supplies and water 
during this notnadic lire. Roads were re- 
ported passable as far as the front, so I left 
the section standing to under the sergeant 
and rode off to find the company. I hunted 
about all morning and round them at last 
at the old place but just ready to more off. 
Arranged to draw rations direct from the 
company each day with my own limber. 
I took two nose-bags of corn back with me 
on my mare, gave the limber horses a feed 
when I reached the section, and then sent 
them back for rations. Somehow or other 
the company bas heard some very highly- 
coloured accounts of our passage through 
the barrage on the 28th. 



I36 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
At 2 p.m. I rode forward with an orderly 
and visited the Brigade and all batteries. 
Heavy tain set in again, and as every one 
seemed fairly comfortable and there was no 
accommodation forward I decided to spend 
another night at the canal. The road is 
blocked with traffic from morning till night, 
and I ara afraid it will break up badly if the 
rain continues--the whole show depends 
on that one, blessed road, and apparently it is 
going to be my job for two or three days 
more until the Corps troops can get up. 
The Brigade was in action when I reached 
them and a stiff fight was going on around 
the last ridgeswthe Huns are sticking a 
bit and a tierce counter-attack had just 
been driven back--rifle and machine-gun 
tire was very intense. I saw a lot of Hun 
dead about the roads and a few of our 
fellows. The Huns have left a lot of guns 
behind and should be fairly hard hit. 
It was dark when I got back, and the horses 



A 8OLDIER'S DIARY t37 
could hardly crawl along. Rations and 
forage came up shortly afterwards, so we 
turned in and had a good night's rest. 
Sept. 3 o. Heavy rain all last night. At 
8 a.m. I sent two orderlies up to Brigade 
and my groom back to the company to 
change my mare---she was completely ex- 
hausted. Pending receipt of orders we 
rigged up a shelter for the horses, as they 
were shivering badly and I began tobe 
frightened for them--the poor beasts are 
caked with mud, and even their eyes are 
hardly free from it. 
At noon received orders to go forward 
as early as possible, so I sent half the limber 
back for rations and moved up with the 
section. Af ter a really terrific struggle we 
got as far as the batteries and managed to 
find a bit of cover in some old German 
concrete dug-outs. Worked till dark on 
the road and then started to fix things up 
for the night. The dug-outs were in the 



x38 A SOLDIER'$ DIARY 
middle of a swamp about 5oo yards from 
the road, and in the dark it took us three- 
quarters of an hour to reach them. I had 
to give up all idea of getting the horses 
across, and finally round a place where they 
could stand about a toile from the dug-outs. 
The drivers were quite worn out, so we had 
to mount a stable-guard of sappers, with 
instructions to move the horses every hour 
to prevent them sinking in the mud. It is 
still raining, bitterly cold, and I can't under- 
stand how the poor beasts live. The wagons 
are nearly axle deep. Shortly after midnight 
I had every one setfled and then crawled, 
literally, into my own shack. It is an old 
Bosche concrete place and stinks like Hell-- 
there are two wooden bunks in it, but it is 
dry. My man lit a tire on the floor and we 
warmed up some old tea in my shaving mug. 
I was chilled to the bone and there was 
nothing to eat, but I shall always believe that 
that tea saved my life. There was no room 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 139 
for oflïcer and servant theremjust two very 
weary men, we sat on either side the tire 
drying our socks and the smell mingled 
with the fetid odours of the dug-out. Our 
eyes grew red and tearful with the smoke, 
which eventually drove us to the uninviting 
boards, where we slept like the Babes in the 
Wood. Several times during the night I 
woke up shivering with cold and the clammy 
clothes sticking to my skin, but--we were 
over the hills and I would not bave missed 
that night for all the gold in Africa. 
Oct. I. Up at 5.3 o and immensely cheered 
to see a Nue sky, although I didn't begin 
to feel normally warm until about noon. 
Bully and biscuit for breakfast as a change 
from the biscuit and bully of the preceding 
days. Received an official note of thanks 
from the Brigade for our work, and orders 
from the C.R.E. to rejoin the company. 
Apparently the advance is held up for a few 
days until heavy guns and supplies can get 



x4o A 8OLDIER'S DIARY 
forward again. I sent No. 2 Section forward 
to work on the new plank avoiding road 
and returned to meet the Major at 8 a.m. 
He returned to the company and sent up 
Nos. t and 4 Sections to me from reserve 
billets. No. 3 Section also rejoined, so I 
fixed the lot in billets as well as possible 
and then took out Nos. , 3, 4 to work on 
the road with No. 2. We have now got 
all out limbers and mol-carts as far as the 
batteries, and I am commanding ail the 
sections--Cooper remains with the heavy 
transport on the other side of the mud. 
Rode round the work during the afternoon 
and met the C.R.E., who was full of con- 
gratulations. Withdrew to billets at 5 p.m. 
to give the mena chance to dry their clothes 
and have a warm meal--the first they have 
had since the 27th. 
We are without definite news, but appar- 
ently the whole show has been a great success, 
and the Army is only waiting until we can 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 4 
get the roads through. I can never forget 
the great change which seemed to spread 
like wildfire over the spirit of the Army 
on the evening of the 28th-29th. 
We were in the midst of the worst of the 
mud area, toiles of transport wagons were 
bogged along out single road, it was raining 
hard, and few of us had eaten anything for 
twenty-four hours. Nobody was looking 
forward to the dawn. But from somewhere 
behind us a rumour came through that 
Bulgaria had asked for Peace. There was 
no cheering, no demonstration of any sort, 
but the news seemed to put new spirit into 
the tired troops. The weary mud-caked 
horses were lashed and spurred again, men 
put their aching shoulders to the wheels, 
and once more the limbers lumbered forward. 
All night long the wagons toiled painfully up 
those fateful ridges where scores of thousands 
of our finest infantry had died, and in the 
drizzling dawn they saw their reward at 



42 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
last--behind them lay the dull, dead plain, 
with its memories of misery and mud-- 
before them, they looked down upon a 
new, unbroken country, and the spire of 
Tenbrielen church, untouched of shot or 
shell, beckoned like a winning post against 
the eastern sky. 
Oct. 2. Heavy rain again last night, but 
it hasn't damped our spirits. We could 
meet almost any call again now. 
At 5.3 o a.m. an orderly came in with 
orders from the C.R.E. saying that we are 
to work from six to nine on the Divisional 
main road. By dashing off without any 
breakfast we were able to start at 7.30, 
and returned for a meal at noon--our first 
since yesterday evening. In the afternoon 
Day v«orked the sections on the road while 
the Major and I brought up the heavy 
transport. 
Artillery horse-lines just forward of our 
own were heavily shelled for about rive 



A 8OLDIER'S DIARY x43 
minutes and a lot of horses were knocked 
out--about  oo of the poor beasts stampeded, 
and it was a pitiful sight to see some of 
them dragging their entrails along the ground. 
This incident ruade me realise that if the 
Germans bave any fight left in them at 
all we are in a very precarious position. 
Several Divisions are herded together with 
the River Lys in front of them and an 
impassable belt of swamp and mud behind. 
A really energetic counter-attack would 
give us another Cambrai. 
At night many rires were visible again 
where the enemy is burning villages along 
his retreat--many of these appear to be 
very far off, which looks as if they contera- 
plate a big withdrawal--a favourite theory 
is that they will withdraw as far as the 
Meuse for the winter. 
Oct. 3" Company commenced work on 
a new plank road to relieve the strain on 
the main road. 



I44 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
I went forward with three wagons to a 
dump on the Menin road to get material, 
but it took us all morning to get there as 
the roads were blocked with artillery limbers 
--v«e want ten times more transport and 
ten times more labour than we bave got if 
we are to make any reasonable progress. 
The Field Colnpanies are quite inadequate 
to cope with any serious road-making in 
an advance like this. 
In the afternoon scouted round with 
Cooper looking for what had once been a 
first-class road, clearly marked on our maps. 
We couldn't find a stone, a tree, or any 
single thing that would indicate where the 
road had been--we couldn't even fix it 
from our maps, as farms, bouses, and land- 
marks of any description had totally dis- 
appeared. We had some diflïculty in getting 
back, and once Coper's horse went down 
to her belly in the mud--we nearly lost 
her, but got her out eventually. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 45 
Oct. 4- Took ail wagons to the dump 
and got a lot of material up during the 
day--made some appreciable progress on 
the road. Two new oftîcers have joined us, 
and Day has gone back to H.O. wagon lines. 
Was ddighted to meet two old friends, 
Lucas and Mitchell of our left Division, 
in the afternoon. 
Oct. 5- Road is now going forward well, 
and we had another fine day although very 
cold. Things seem tobe sorting themselves 
out after the last advance and we should 
soon be ready to try again. 
Oct. 6. Orders from the C.R.E. that we 
shall probably move again to-morrow and 
all ranks are to bave as much rest as possible. 
Worked ail morning on the road and packed 
pontoons, etc., during the afternoon. 
Oct. 7. Two sections moved at 7 a.m. to 
work again on the avoiding road, and two 
sections moved across country towards the 
Menin road. At 9 a.m. I took the transport 
If 



46 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
across in front of Ypres and picked up 
Cooper with the pontoons in the afternoon. 
We made a horse-lines there, as it was the 
only patch of dry earth available, but before 
getting in we had to shift about fifteen dead 
mules which had been killed the night 
belote by a bomb. 
Billeted the sections in an area containing 
one dug-out, just off the Ypres-Menin road 
ma piece of ground probably more fiercely 
fought over than any other during the war. 
The solitary dug-out was unusable owing 
to prevalence of dead Boschemas Mark 
Twain would say, " Fixed, so that they 
could outvote us." We couldn't find a 
level piece of ground large enough to take 
one tent without a lot of digging. The 
sergeants round a very good place for their 
tcnt, but a dead Hun was in possession of 
the freehold. They decided to bury him, 
and deepened a shell-hole accordingly ; then 
the problem, how to get him into it ? The 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY I4 
Sergeant-Major took his boots and the Farrier 
very gingerly took his sleeves; they lifted, 
but his arms came out in the Farrier's 
hands. They withrew to windward and 
talked ; it was growing dusk, the tent must 
go up. Finally the Farrier put his gas mask 
on and literally buried him in shovelfuls. 
Pro patria 
The only way to stop war is to tell these 
facts in the school history books and cut 
out the rot about the gallant charges, the 
victorious returns, and the blushing damsels 
who scatter roses under the conquering 
heroes' feet. Every soldier knows that a 
re-writing of the history books would stop 
war more effectively than the most 
elaborately covenanted league which tired 
politico-legal minds can conceive. 
Oct. 8. Working all day on the roads. 
It is a dreary job in this blighted, featureless 
country. 
Oct. 9. Received orders to report again 



48 A SOLDIERS DIARY" 
at Artillery Brigade H.Q., so there is 
obviously another stunt in the wind. In 
the meantime we are still mud-slinging. 
Oct. o. Went forward into the outposts 
to reconnoitre tracks and ways forward 
for the guns. We were in absolutely virgin 
country, and it was a new experience to 
think of death lurking behind these green 
hedges and quiet farm buildings. 
At night took the section up and did a 
lot of work--filled in several ditches, cleared 
a ride through a wood, and chopped down 
several trees with vhich we made a small 
bridge--took the floor out of the farm kitchen 
to cover it with. 
Oct. . Out reccnnoitring again all 
morning, and at night took a company of 
Pioneers up to work on a second track. 
Itad a very unpIeasant time on the Menin 
road, "vhcre we were heavily shelledsome 
artillery transport suffered badly, but we 
got through without casualties. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY I:9 
The wcathcr continues fine, and cvcry- 
thing points to another show about the 15th. 
The Huns bave put up a lot of wire, but the 
field guns bave been shooting this down 
steadily for three days now, and the heavies 
are coming into position. This morning 
when I was up, our shells were falling dead 
in the belts of wire and cutting broad lanes 
through it. 
Sent in two recommendations for Military 
Medals for work in the last show :-- 
]V[OtNTED CoRvoR...--For great gallantry 
and devotion to duty i bringing up trans- 
port and supplies under heavy shell-fire 
and at great personal risk. His action 
greatly contributed to the success of the 
section in its work of helping forward the 
guns. 
A SAPPV.R.--For conspicuous gallantry and 
devotion to duty when repairing a bridge 
under heavy shell-fire for the advance of 
the artillery. He set a fine example to his 



5o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
comrades, and persevered with his work 
until it was completed, regardless of great 
personal danger. 
It was hard to write the above, knowing 
that every man equally deserves those medals 
--the whole institution of awards ought to 
be abolished ; except, perhaps, the V.C. 
Oct. 2. Skipper returned from leave. 
Company still carrying on with roads. No. 
2 Section out with me all night widening 
a bridge. It was a miserable night with 
heavy rain and howling wind, but the men 
worked cheerfully and a lot of work was 
done. So far as we are concerned all is 
now ready for the next attack. 
Oct. 13. The attack is to start early on 
the morning of the I4th , and will be general 
along the Army front. The company re- 
ceived orders to more forward to-day, but 
I had to go on to Brigade before they 
started or before I knew exactly where 
they were going. I left Brigade shortly 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 5, 
after dusk and returned to find two com- 
panies of Pioneers who were detailed to 
work under me to-morrow. I knew they 
were somewhere in the morass near the 
Menin road, but I blundered about for 
two hours before I round them. It required 
all my will power to keep me going, and 
when finally I saw their tents I was in the 
last stages of exhaustion--several times I 
must bave been very near to them, but it 
was impossible to see more than 2o yards, 
and I had passed away again, going round 
and round in circles. I was so weak towards 
the end that I used to lie still in the mud 
for several minutes every time I fell, aching 
in every muscle, and wondering how many 
more times I could fall without dropping 
off to sleep. 
It was after  a.m. when I left the Pioneers 
and there was a four-toile walk to where I 
thought the company would be. I wandered 
from battery to battery asking for news 



x52 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
of them, but no one could tell me where 
they were. It was absolutely vital that I 
should find them before dawn, but at last 
my legs failed completely and I collapsed 
in the middle (f the road. I crawled into a 
hole in the bark but, tired as I was, couldn't 
sleep because of the cold. I was tormented 
with fears as to what would happen in the 
morning as I was the only officer who knew 
the gun tracks and almost everything de- 
pended on the clearing of those. 
Oct. 14. Dawn came at last, cold, clear, 
and very beautiful, and at 5"35 the barrage 
came to spoil it. I set off towards the 
batteries in the hope of picking the men up 
there and round the Pioneers. I gave them 
work to go on with and turned to try to 
find my own fellows. The din from our own 
guns was terrific and the German retaliation 
seemed unusually heavy. The hard, per- 
sistent rattle of machine-gun tire in front 
seemed to indicate that we had stuck and 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 53 
a lot of wounded seemed to be coming back 
--some shells exploded very near me and 
I dropped into a ditch. I was cold, hungry, 
and tired, and at that moment would bave 
sold my soul to have been out of it all. 
Above me the sky was serenely blue and 
peaceful, but eastwards it was shot with 
balls of multi-coloured smoke, just as if an 
invisible artist were dabbing splotches of 
colour on to a blue canvas. 
Why, oh! why should I walk into that 
blazing inferno and die on a morning like 
this . These thoughts were actually in my 
mind when I saw Cooper coming down the 
road with the section--they thought I had 
been killed. I shall always remember stand- 
ing there in the road and chewing ravenously 
at a hunk of bully xrhich I held in my 
muddy fingers. It was my first meal for 
seventeen hours, and I never enjoyed one 
better. 
Then we »vent forward, and I began to 



x54 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
get hold of myself again as the work engaged 
my attention. I shall never forget one 
sight. A big highlander with the lower part 
of his face blown off walking down the 
railway with a prisoner in front of him-- 
his right hand on the back of the German's 
neck and lais left hand holding his face 
together with the blood pouring through 
his fingers. Men coming back say the 
Huns stuck liard at first, but we are going 
well forward now. 
To-day's programme was roughly as 
follows :-- 
The Army Corps is to form bridgeheads 
across the River Lys for a defensive flank. 
One R.E. company takes all the Divisional 
pontoons and stands by to bridge when 
the infantry get to the river. One section 
of this to dash forward with Lewis guns and 
try to prevent destruction of existing bridges. 
The second company and two of our 
own sections are working on roads with 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 155 
special instructions to search for and destroy 
land mines. One of our remaining secdons 
reporting on German dumps, and generally 
gathering information, and the last section 
arranging temporary water supplies. 
We went forward very well during the 
morning as there was practically no shell- 
tire af ter the first two hours. The losses 
seem to bave been fairly heavy in forcing the 
first trenches, and there were a lot of bodies 
lying crumpled up among the German 
wire. All that we saw were the veriest 
youngsters, and they looked so out of place 
lying there dead in the green fields on this 
beautiful autumn morning. Shortly after 
noon we arrived at a large farm and round 
ourselves mixed up with the front line 
infantry, who were held up. We lay behind 
a hedge and got a few shots into a feeble 
German counter-attack, and af ter this the 
line went forward again. 
We remained at the farm and about two 



I56 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
o'clock were heavily shelled by German 
field guns. Several machine-gunners were 
hit and the Brigade Commander, who had 
just arrived, had his leg blown off. For a 
few minutes the place was in chaos, but two 
8-pounders galloped up and silenced the 
Hun battery with their first few shcts. 
After these years of trench warfare it is 
wonderful to see field guns galloping into 
action and engaging the enemy over open 
sights. 
Beyond the farm the roads were in perfect 
condition, so we returned to the company 
and round them in tents on a hill about 
three miles behind. I thought at one time 
the men would bave to carry me back, I 
had never felt so tired. Bad news awaited 
us--Cooper had been killed early in the 
morning, about hall an hour after the attack 
startednlater in the day the Sergeant-Major 
was wounded, and there were eleven casual- 
ties among the men. 



A SOLDIERS DIARY 57 
The passing of an old friend makes a 
big in,pression in a small mess, and we were 
very silent at night as we sat and smoked 
af ter supper. The town of Menin was 
burning fiercely and ,nany other places 
farther to the east. 
Oct. 5- Buried Cooper fairly decently 
in some old sacking at a Belgian ce,netery. 
No orders came through, and we had a day 
of welco,ne rest. 
Oct. I6. Company moved forward at 
io.3o a.m. to battle areas and took over 
billcts from a company of our left Division. 
There are no signs of war here, and ahnost 
every man in the company has a bed to 
sleep in--splendid grazing for the horses 
and lots of vegetables in the fields for our- 
selves. It is all like fairyland, and we walked 
out solemnly this afternocn to look at a 
large green field without a single shell-hole 
in it. 
Reports state that we have taken Courtrai, 



x58 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
and streams of refugees coming back along 
the roads indicate that it may be true. 
Unfortunately, they are all of the very 
lov«est classes, and as they only speak Flemish 
we were unable, to get any information out 
of them. 
It is a heartbreaking sight to see them 
trudging through the rain---eld men, women, 
and the tiniest of children. 
Sometimes they wheel a barrow containing 
a few of their goods, but most of them are 
without anything except the miserable rags 
they stand in. 
Oct. I 7. Had the company out ail day 
doing road drainage. The tedium of the 
work was relieved by a ghastly incident, 
showing how low these poor refugees have 
sunk. A party of them were trudging 
listlessly along the road when the leaders 
noticed a dead horse lying in the ditch. 
In a few seconds the men and women had 
taken their knives and were fighting like 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 59 
animals on the distended carcass, chattering 
and shrieking like a crowd of hungry jackals. 
As they worked they threw the chunks of 
bleeding meat into the road, where the 
children fought for them and stowed them 
in the barrows. In a few minutes the horse 
was stripped to his bones, the noise subsided, 
and the ghouls trudged on their way. 
Oct. 8. Working on the road all day in 
heavy rain, but were called out again at 
night to form a bridgehead across the river 
in front of us. We are in possession of hall 
the town on the near side of the river, but 
the Germans have destroyed all the bridges 
and hold the eastern hall of the town. 
The main road bridge in the centre of the 
town lay across the bed of the river in a 
maze of twisted steel-work--we were required 
to make a foot bridge across these ruins 
for the infantry to get across. Day climbed 
across with three men and a Lewis gun on 
the ruins of the old bridge and cleared 



,6o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
a German machine-gun party out of the 
farther bank. After this we started work 
and ruade fair progress considering the vile 
conditions. With the river sucking and 
swirling below them and the cold rain 
numbing their fingers, it was anything but 
an easy task for the men to keep their 
foothold on the slippery, twisted girders. 
In addition we were shelled persistently 
through the night, and seven men were 
down when the first infantry went across 
about 4.o a.m. 
Oct. 19. An hour af ter our return to 
billets orders came through for us to move 
forward again. The other companies got 
two pontoon bridges across the river during 
the day and we billeted near at hand, to 
provide maintenance parties. I was very 
tired and turned into bed early, looking 
forward to a long night's sleep. 
just as I »vas dozing off the orderly corporal 
came in with a message from the bridge 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
patrol asking me to go out as numerous 
things were going wrong. There is no 
worse torture for a really tired man than 
to allow him to get into a warm, comfortable 
bed for a few minutes and then turn him 
out into a stormy night. And I had been 
living all day on the strength of the night's 
sleep that I was going to get ! 
Arrived at the bridges I had no time for 
regrets--the river was rising, the traffic was 
absolutely continuous, and everything that 
could go wrong was doing so. 
However, we kept them going all night 
long with the exception of a twenty-minute 
stopping of one bridge, and Day relieved me 
at 6 a.m. I was relieved in more senses 
than one, for two or three times during the 
night I felt things getting too much for me, 
things that I would bave enjoyed three 
years ago. Wild, angry thoughts went 
running through my mind as we struggled 
with that creaking, groaning bridge, and 
L 



62 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
nursed it through the weary hours--and 
worst of all, the bitter thought that so long 
as we succeeded none of the sleeping millions 
at home would ever hear of the work we 
did. And thousands of men all over France 
were doing just the same 

"That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, 
Pleasantly sleeping and unaware." 

Why should I be alone there in the dark 
with that nerve-racking responsibility, and 
why should we splash in that freezing water, 
heaving anchors, tightening trestle chains, 
and baling the leaky pontoons?--and ail 
unknown ! 
These are bitter thoughts, but I am worn 
out for months I have been living on my 
will power, but my body and my nerves were 
exhausted a year ago. I find it cynically 
amusing to wonder what the idealistic, rugby- 
playing self of 19I 3 would think of this 
introspective, nerve-shattered crock. He 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x63 
would have sniffed and turned awaymas 
the world will do when we return. 
Oct. 2o. Standing to all day under one 
hour's notice to move as the forward Division 
are attacking the ridge v«hich overlooks the 
Scheldt. In the evening we heard that the 
attack was held up and failed, and we are 
to try our luck to-morrow. At 9.3o p.m. 
I rode forward with No. 2 Section with 
orders to join the Fusiliers before dawn. It 
was abnormally dark, raining persistently, and 
I had the greatest difficulty in finding our 
waymworst of all, I had to conquer an ever- 
growing feeling that I didn't care whether I 
round it or not---even that little responsi- 
bility was too much for me. I wanted to 
be alone to cry. After two hours I fell 
into a coma and then dismounted and 
walked to prevent myself giving way alto- 
gether. 
We round the Brigade at 3 a.m., and I 
put the men into a barn for two hours' rest. 



64 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
I gave orders to be called at rive, and 
turned into an arm-chair in the farm-house 
kitchen. 
For the first time since I came to France 
my nerves gave way completely and I was 
tormented with fears of the morrow. I had 
just been told that we were to go forward 
with the Fusiliers against the banks of a 
canal and help them across as well as we 
couldmthere would be machine-gun tire 
and no cover. Those were the facts. We 
have done infinitely worse a thousand times 
and thought nothing of it. 
But I lay in that chair for two hours 
actually shivering with fear and apprehen- 
sion. My crazy mind wouldn't rest, and I 
saw myself killed in a dozen different ways 
as we rushed for the canal bank--at one 
time I had the wildest impulse to run away 
and hide until the attack was over. I knew 
that was impossible, and then I thought 
I would report sick and pretend to faint. I 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY ,65 
was ready to do anything except face machine- 
gun tire again--once we got so close that I 
could see a German's face leering behind his 
gun and the familiar death rattle was as 
loud as thunder in my ears. I sat and 
watched my hand shaking on the edge of 
the chair and had no more control over 
it than if it had belonged to some one 
else. 
8omehow I pulled together when the 
orderly corporal came, paraded the section, 
mechanically inspected the tools, and then 
marched off. In ten minutes I was myself 
again and at 6.3o we reached the Fusiliers. 
At 7.0 the advance commenced in drizzling 
rain and we moved forward over the sodden 
fields. 
0£1. 2 I. It was very misty at first, and 
the whole affair reminded me of a Laffan's 
Plain manoeuvre--the scattered groups of 
men worked steadily forward over the open 
fields and occasionally a nervous civilian 



166 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
would take a peep at us from a farm-house 
windowmthere was no sign of war except, 
perhaps, an unnatural stillness which seemed 
to bang over the countryside like a mist. 
It gave one an uncanny feeling, this blunder- 
ing forward in the mist across an unknown 
country--the only certainty, that Death 
was in front and that we must walk on until 
He declared Himself. 
By eleven we were within a thousand 
yards of the canal and could dimly see the 
general line of the banks in front of us. 
Here, at least, we knew that there would be 
resistance, but as yet there came no sound 
from the rising ground in front. The 
ground between us and the canal was very 
open, so we rested some minutes behind 
the last thick hedges and took the oppor- 
tunity of reorganising the units. Then we 
went forward again, a long straggling line 
of crouching figures who cursed and panted 
as they toiled over the swampy ground. 



A 8OLDIER'8 DIARY -r67 
At last the storm broke, heavy machine- 
gun tire but at rather long range. The line 
flopped down into the mud, and groups of 
men began to work forward in short rushes 
to a ditch in front which seemed to offer 
cover. We reached this with very few 
casualties, but the tire was too hot for 
further progress. Sniping continued ail 
day, and in places we pushed two or three 
hundred yards nearer to the canal. No. 2 
Section took refuge in a farm-house and 
awaited developments. 
After dusk I crawled forward with Jen- 
nings of the Fusiliers and got through on to 
the canal towpathmthere were a lot of Huns 
round the canal and their outposts were 
fully 300 yards on our side of it. After 
some diflïculty we got within about 5 ° 
yards of the bridge and I noticed that the 
Huns could still crawl across, although it 
was badly damagedmallowing for further 
demolitions I didn't think we should have 



x68 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
much trouble in getting a foot-bridge across 
the ruins--we were nearly caught once, and 
lay between the water and the towpath 
while a party of about ten Huns walked 
along the path not ten feet away. Got back 
safely in the small hours and had a short 
rest in soaking clothes on the farm-house 
floor. 
I am too exhausted to feel tire& 
Oct. 22. Apparently some of our people 
have got across the canal farther to the 
north, and at 9 a.m. the attack was resumed 
on that side with a view to forcing the Huns 
out of their position. Our orders were to 
co-operate by means of a demonstration 
against the canal, but the machine-gun tire 
was too heavy and we could do nothing 
except waste a lot of ammunition. I only 
remember seeing a German once during the 
whole day, and yet the slightest exposure on 
our part was answered by an immediate 
burst of fire--they stuck it very well, because 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 69 
the fighting on their right flank was very 
heavy and they would all have been taken 
if we had got through. For several hours 
during the morning the rifte and machine- 
gun tire on our left was very heavy, and the 
8-pounders were continuously in action. 
Towards noon a battery of 68-pounders 
came into action and also some howitzersm 
several rires broke out in the houses, but 
the shells had no effect on the concealed 
gunners in the canal banks, and we waited 
in vain for the blue rocket that was to signal 
us forward. About two o'clock an intelli- 
gence officer came round and we learnt that 
the Germans stuck very hard this morning 
--we made practically no progress as a 
result of the battle, and our losses have been 
heavy. 
At 4.3 ° the attack on our left was resumed, 
and the Oueens made a very gallant advance 
which brought them down almost as far 
as our left ftank on the canalmunfortunately, 



• 7o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
there was no support, and before dusk the 
weary men had to retreat to their original 
positions. 
On our immediate right there was very 
little opposition, and the Durhams are 
firmly established across the canal. Farther 
south, however, our right Division repeated 
the performance of the Queens on a larger 
scale and had to abandon a hardly-won 
bridgehead across the river after a day of 
strenuous fighting. 
A t 8 p.m. I was informed by Brigade that 
owing to the retirement of the Queens I 
was covering a hall-mlle gap, and " should 
take steps accordingly." I mounted a piquet 
with the Lewis gun a few hundred yards 
forward of the farm, and sent out patrols 
every half-hour, but the night passed off 
without incident. I took out two patrols 
myself but could find neither our own 
people nor Huns. 
We have had a bad day to-day--hard 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 171 
fighting, heavy losses, and no progressm 
people at home seem to think that we are 
chasing a beaten army which runs so fast 
that we cannot keep in touch with them. 
Would that it were true; but we have been 
badly mauled to-day and there is precious 
little offensive spirit in our nineteen-year- 
olds. 
I saw a boy of the Middlesex coming back 
with a finger shot awaymthey had run 
against a farm-house with three Huns and 
a machine-gun and had lost four men in 
taking it. He said that the bloody " die- 
hards " had lived up to their name again 
four casualties ! 
And yet there was a day on Zandvoorde 
Ridge when twenty-three men, left out of 
800, lay behind the piled-up bodies of their 
dead and held the line against the flower of 
the Pomeranian Guardand they didn't 
talk of " die hards." 
Oct. 23. The Brigade was taken out of 



72 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
the line this morning and at noon we had 
rejoined our transport. We were under 
orders to move almost at once and dragged 
ourselves wearily on to the road, the men 
singing a doleful dirge, " I'm sure we 
can't stick it no longer." For the sake of 
example I hobbled too, but would have sold 
my soul to get on Rosie's back--to kill the 
temptation I loaded four men's packs across 
lier. 
After dark we came across a battery of 
field guns standing-to with their trails half 
across the road--by skilful driving and 
occasionally taking a wheel over the trails 
we got the limbers and the tool-carts past, 
but it was too much for the last pontoon-- 
her off hind-wheel hit a trail, the wheel 
horses slipped on the pavé, and the whole 
contraption slithered sideways into the ditch. 
I wanted to cry, but fortunately found the 
necessary relief in telling the gunners what 
I thought of them. It took us almost an 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x73 
hour to get the wagon clear, and it was 
midnight belote the men were into billets. 
There was a pile of straw for me in front 
of a roaring tire in the farm-house kitchen. 
I collapsed on to this, too exhausted 
even to loosen my boots or my tunic 
collar. 
0c¢. 2 4. Let there be no mistake-last 
night was the happiest night of my life, 
and getting up at six o'clock this morning 
was the most wonderful thing that I bave 
ever done. I looked into a mirror and 
realised with amusement why the old fariner 
was so terrified when I staggered in last 
night. The scar under my left eye is still 
prominent, my clothes were sodden and 
even my tousled hair was matted with mud ; 
with the exception of my tunic all my 
uniform is standard Tommy outfit, and I 
wore a five-days' growth of beard--surely 
a more unkempt looking brigand never 
masqueraded as a British officer. 



74 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
I looked at my great murderous maulers 
and wondered idly how they had evolved 
from the sensitive, manicured fingers that 
used to pen theses on " Colloidal Fuel " and 
"The Theory of Heat Distribution in 
Cylinder Walls." And I round the com- 
parison good. 
No orders came through for us during 
the day, but we heard that another early 
morning attack on the canal had failed-- 
all honour to those Hun machine-gunners. 
After a day of strenuous cleaning, the 
company paraded in the afternoon and 
looked ready once more for anything that 
Hell could offer. I counted the faces that 
I could remember from the beginning, but 
there were very few leftand myself the 
only oflâcer. It struck me, too, that the 
very men left were the ones who had run 
the greatest risks--hard-bitten devils like 
Stephens, who had been in the thick of 
every mess the company had struck--perhaps 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
it is true that where there is no fear there 
is no danger. 
Oct. 2 5. Spent another quiet day, but 
was rushed into the war again at very short 
notice in the evening. Out all night with 
two sections assisting forward company to 
put a trestle bridge across the canal lower 
down. There was an enormous German 
tituber dump close at hand, and although 
most of the yard was burning fiercely we 
saved enough material to make an excellent 
job of the bridge. The German engineers 
are very thorough in their demolitions, and 
have ruade a perfect ruin of mlles of this 
canal--apparently their explosive charges 
are much more liberal than we use ourselves. 
Returned to the company in a drizzling 
dawn, but were cheered to note droves of 
prisoners along the road and hear that we 
have gone forward again. 
Oct. 26. At 4.3 ° received orders to move 
company to billets in a farm far behind us 



x76 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
and near to Courtrai---obviously to undergo 
a fattening process for further slaughter. 
After our arrival in the evening I had another 
of my black fits for no reason whatever-- 
thcy occur more frequently now, and I 
must surely break up soon. The sober 
trufla is that I am about as much use here 
now as my grandmother would be. But 
even if I ara a wreck it is sweet to feel that 
I bave wanted ten times more smashing than 
any of the others--I have given the Fates 
a run for their money and I believe I blew 
them once or twice. 
Oct. 2 7. I have been in the saddle all 
day and feel like a king to-night. Silence 
and peace over the whole quiet countryside, 
and, as I rode home in the twilight, a touch 
of frost in the air to catch the horse's breath 
and make my blood tingle. Oh ! it-,vas good 
to be alive, to feel the power of the horse 
beneath me, to feel the strength returning 
to my own shattered body and, above all, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 77 
to think of cheerful firesides down there 
among the trees, where the wood smoke 
mingled with the gathering mists. It was 
" that sweet mood, 

When pleasant thoughts 
Bring sad thoughts to the mind." 

I saw an English village with a quaint old 
Norman church, and there, too, the mists 
were gathering in the meadows round 
about. 
Oct. 28. Now we know why we are 
here--to train, practise, and rehearse for the 
crossing of the Scheldt. Ail the Corps 
Engineers met in conference in the town 
and spent the day designing and testing 
various types of foot-bridge. The men had 
the pontoons out and the officers spent the 
day in polishing up their drill. I saw where 
we crossed the first time in the driving rain, 
with the machine-guns hammering in the 



'r78 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
bouses in front of us, and I saw the spot 
where I nursed the first pontoon bridge 
through an interminable night. But how 
different now ! 
A company of Canadian Railway troops 
were making a permanent bridge on the 
very spot where my crazy pontoons had all 
but foundered. A broad-gauge loco was 
hauling ballast up to the very edge of the 
river, and a steam pile-driver hissed and 
chattered over the trestles. 
After all, our pontoons had played their 
part and it was comforting to see how our 
feeble, vanguard efforts were followed 
up. 
Returned to the farm, I was delighted to 
hear that the recommendations for Military 
Medals had passed throughmmy own D.S.O. 
has dwindled into another " mention in 
despatches." 
Oct. -9- More conferences and bridge- 
building. I have been asked to reconnoitre 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x79 
the existing bridges over the river, and the 
Huns are half a toile on this side of them ! 
Spent several hours studying maps and 
aeroplane photos and discussing ways and 
means. 
Oct. 3 o. More conferences and training. 
Completed my plans and decided to take 
Stephens out with me on the night of the 
3 st. 
Oct. 3 - At 2.30 p.m. I lay down quite 
peacefully, intending to sleep until dusk, 
when I could set out on my venture. I was 
looking forward to it, and felt perfectly 
confident. 
Just as I was dozing off the orderly corporal 
came in, bringing, of ail things, a warrant 
for me to go on leave to-morrow. Instantly 
the whole affair changed, and I was seized 
with a blue shivering funk. In six hours I 
was due to go through the German lines, 
and there, lying on the table was a bit of 
paper waiting to take me to England in 



8o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
the morning. It was the cruellest stroke of 
all, for I felt certain that I should never 
return. I went back to my bunk and sweated 
and shivered with fear. My mind and my 
body seemed to be completely separated 
from each other, and I found it quite 
impossible to stop the quaking of my limbs. 
I saw Death in a thousand forms just as on 
the night before the attack at Courtrai. 
Sleep was impossible, so I got up at last and 
wrote these lines with a trembling hand. 
The others are chipping me about " My 
Last Will and Testament," and there is the 
usual fatuous talk of medals. Day says that 
if I corne back they will roll all my previous 
non-fructifying recommendations into one 
and make it a real V.C. at last. Oh ! God, 
if they only knew--and they look to me 
as a sort of Bayard."--t¢/ritten at Calais 
waiting for leave loat. 
After leaving the Mess and that infernal 
warrant, I calmed down somewhat and was 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY x8 
able to get my mind on to the work ahead 
--my old campaigning instincts began to 
return and I became once more a scout, 
clear-headed and fearless. It was a grand 
night for my work, miserable and stormy, 
with rain and bail blowing in the gusty 
wind. Arrived in the outposts it dawned 
on me that S tephens would be quite useless, 
and I couldn't remember xYhy I had ever 
decided to take him---if things went all 
right he could do nothing, and if they round 
us it would be two corpses instead of one. 
He pleaded to corne with me, and I had to 
hurt his feelings to get rid of him. 
I got all the information I could from the 
outpost officers, said good-bye to them, and 
went forward towards the river. It was 
then about half a mlle in front of me, and 
separated from our posts by a belt of marsh 
and flooded fields. This belt was traversed 
by two roads with a small bridge in each 
where they crossed a stream running parallel 



8z A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
to the main river. I had to investigate these 
two roads and bridges and the main bridge 
where the two roads joined across the river. 
It was my plan to work up one road, look 
at the river, and the main bridge, and then 
return down the other road. 
There was practically no cover on the 
road, but the night was dark and I felt fairly 
sale along the water's edge. I calculated 
that I had gone 2oo yards and then I waited, 
as I was a little nervous at having heard 
nothing, and felt certain that there would 
be posts along the road. After rive minutes 
I heard the tapping of a mallet on stakes, 
and knew that they were wiring some 2oo 
yards down the road. Still I waited, 
but I had no clear notion why. I assumed, 
of course, that there were protective troops 
on this side of the wiring party, but it was 
instinct rather than reason which made me 
halt. I was just preparing to go forward 
again when two men rose out of the road 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 83 
not 5 yards away, walked a few paces 
up and down the road, and then appeared 
to lie down again. I had all but walked 
on to their rifles and my heart thumped 
crazily. There was nothing for it but to 
take to the water and the marsh. I retreated 
2o yards and waded in, holding my revolver 
over my head. It was deathly cold, and after 
about zoo yards I nearly gave it upmat times 
the water was up to my shoulders and I 
seemed to make no progress. The noise of 
the working party guided me, and eventually 
I judged that I was behind them and there- 
fore about in line with the first small bridge. 
About this time I realised that another 
rive minutes in the water would kill me, and 
I struck back for the road, regardless of 
everything except a desire to get on dry 
land. Unfortunately, I blundered into a 
colony of waterfowl, and they flew up all 
round my head, making a terrific noise. 
My heart stood still and I waited again 



8 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
was there a scout among those Huns on 
the road, who could read the meaning of 
the terrified waterfowl ? Apparently not, 
for I still heard the regular tapping of the 
mallets, and several minutes later I was lying 
exhausted by the roadside. I hall emptied 
my flask and pushed on up the roadwI »vas 
right in the middle of the Huns now and 
crawling on my stomach as I did not know 
how near or far they might be--I 
thought the cold would kill me, and won- 
dered what the Huns would think to find a 
dead Englishman inside their lines. To 
my unspeakable delight there was no one 
on the bridge, and I »vas able to make a 
thorough examination. I laughed at the 
Huns working solemnly down the road, and 
for a second forgot my terrible condition. 
Here I think my mind went a little dull, 
as I blundered straight on down the road 
until I had almost reached the river and the 
main bridge. It was sheer madness, but I 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
would certainly lave perished without the 
movement to aid my circulation. I remem- 
ber thinking grimly that it would be just my 
rate to die of a cold after ail that I had been 
through. I found a lot of Huns round the 
bridge, so I struck the river about 
yards above it and then worked down under 
cover of the banks. I spent some twenty 
minutes under the bridge and ail the rime 
I could hear their voices in the darkness 
above me--the meaning of their words 
was drowned by the noise of the wind and 
the rain. 
Now I had to get back down the other 
road before it began to grow light, and, as 
I truly imagined, deliver my message before 
I died. Half a toile inside the Hun lines, 
after spending two hours up to my shoulders 
in water on a November night my con- 
dition is better imagined than described. 
I are a sodden mass of crumbs and bully 
that had once been sandwiches in my pocket 



86 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
and finished the rum. I was nearly caught 
in getting to the downstream side of the 
bridge and lay shivering under a hedge for 
several minutes while a party marched by 
within three paces of my head. I think 
they were the working party off the road 
and I noticed that it was beginning to grow 
lighter luckily the storm grew worse. Even- 
tually I got on to the second road and 
crawled back along the water's edge until 
I came to my last bridgemthere was a 
German machine-gun party sitting right 
in the middle of it. My brain was still 
perfect, but I had lost ail sense of feeling in 
my bodymI wanted to crythey sat there 
between me and England, and I believe I had 
some idea of getting up and asking them to 
let me go home. For a few minutes I had 
no more will-power than a child. Then 
some of our shells came over and I could 
hear them bursting on the road over the 
bridge. There was only one way back 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 87 
and that was as I had comemthrough the 
water. I forgot all about the stream and 
waded in. The cold seemed to pull me 
together, although, God knows, nothing 
could be colder than my own body. There 
was a bit of dry land between the flood and 
the stream, but I got across without being 
seen--I was keeping close to the bridge 
in the hope of seeing something of it as I 
passe& If I couldn't wade the stream I 
was done, but I determined to try even if 
my head was under water and I had to hold 
my breath. It was not more than rive feet 
deep in the centre and I got across and 
so over the bank into the flood on the far 
side. I had still to keep to the water, as I 
was afraid there would be a patrol on the 
road in advance of the people on the bridge. 
A few of our shells were still falling on the 
road, and I could hear the angry hisses as 
the red-hot bits of steel rained into the 
water round about. I did about 2oo yards 



x88 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
like this and then I gave up--it was either 
the road or collapse and drowning in the 
»rater. I got on to the road, worked back 
carefully until I felt safe, and then ran like 
the devil until I knew I was inside our 
posts. \¥hen I stopped I nearly fainted, 
so I set off again--my head pulling me up 
into the clouds like a bubble and my legs 
holding me to the road as if they were tons 
of lead. 
Eventuallv I came across some gunners 
and they marvelled at the xhisky I drank. 
I told them I had been out scouting and 
slipped into some water--I didn't really 
know what had happened just at the rime 
--I had vague impressions of a niass of 
water and some Germans sitting on a bridge, 
refusing to let me go home. Then I fell 
asleep, .just .at clown bang on the mess 
floor and collapsed. 
They voke me after a couple of hours, lent 
me a horse, and directed me to the compan)'. 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 8 9 
To-morrow I shall be in En gland. 
Nov. 9- In the paper this morning there 
is a brief announcement that the Second 
Army is across the Scheldt. I was proud to 
see it and felt amply rewarded for my terrible 
night in the water. It bas left no apparent 
after-effects, so there must bave been more 
resistance left in my old carcass than I gave 
myself credit for. 
Nov.  . It is over. These last few days 
I bave hardly dared to hope for it, and now 
that it bas corne I can hardly realise exactly 
what it means. The thought of going back 
toit was killing me, and I have been suffering 
from the most ghastly nightmare dreams-- 
sometimes I ara stuck in the wire, unable 
to duck, with bullets whistling past my 
head--another time I ara trying to run 
through knee-deep mud with the shell-bursts 
slowly overtaking me. I haven't slept peace- 
fully since my return, but think it will be 
better now. 



• 9o A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
I went out to see the celebrations to-night, 
and had only one regret--that mg revolver 
was left in Flanders. 

For of these how many know, 
Or, how many knowing, care 
Of the things that bought them this 
In the mud fields over there. 

It is most emphatically 
forthwith be forgotten. 

over and will 



STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, 
3oth Atg., 192o. 
It is late at nlght and I ara lying on the 
silken cushions of a private yacht; my 
host's daughter, a beaudful blue-eyed girl, 
is reclining b)r my side, ber hand on my 
shoulder. 
Ail around us the harbour lights are 
twinkling merrily and the warm breath of" 
the idle breeze carries the sound of" pleasant 
music from the gardcns in the town. The 
litde waves whisper and sigh seductively 
under the stem of" the ship, and overhead, 
" the sort, lasceevious stars leer from the 
velvet skies." I recall a similar night at 
Colwyn in 1914 and wonder if these people, 
too, will rail to read the writing on the 
wall. 
We are living once more in the days of 
" pomp and circumstance "meach morning 
xgx 



t92 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
I see their Guards march to the Royal Palace 
with brazen music and all the childish 
pageantry of warmeach afternoon I see 
their sartorially perfect officers parade the 
Strandvagen before the gay-gowned beauties 
of the cal&. 
Is there no one with the courage to tell 
thein that war is not like this, that there 
will corne a day without music, when there 
are no bright colours and no admiring eyes, 
but when " the lice are in their hair and the 
scabs are on their tongue"? Surely our 
years of sacrifice were vain if the most 
highly educated people in Europe remain 
in ignorance of the real nature of war and 
are open scoffers at the League of Nations. 
They believe that England is the biggest 
brigand in the world, and look upon Ger- 
many as the home of all Progress, valiantly 
defending herself against a league of jealous 
enemies. To me it is incredible and I 
remonstrate--they mention Ireland, Egypt, 



A SOLDIER'S DIARY 193 
India, and Versailles. Then I realise that 
the bitterest passages in my diary are only 
too truemthe sway of the old men has 
returned, the dead are forgotten, and be- 
trayed. Please God that they may never 
know the futility of their sacrifice. 
I am weary and tired of life mysdf; a 
mere shell of a man, without health or 
strength, whose vitality was eaten out by the 
Flanders mud. This ease and luxury is sent 
to mock me; I fling my cigar overboard 
with angry contempt. 
Along the northern sky the summer sun- 
set is mingling with the dawn in a riot of 
impossible colours. My mind turns back 
to a day when Gheluvelt lay smoking in 
the sun, England still slumbered, and the 
flower of the Prussian Army were pouring 
in overwhelming numbers along the road 
to Calais. The ISt Division was fought to a 
standstill, dying in thousands but yielding not 
an inch; the 7th was practically annihilated 



I94 A SOLDIER'S DIARY 
but somehow held their line, counter- 
attacking again and again untiI the khaki 
drops were swalIowed in the sea of gray; 
there was an open gap at last. Haig himself 
rode down the Menin road to calI for a Iast 
effort from the weary men; a gunner 
oflîcer, his arm hanging in shreds from the 
shoulder, took his last gun on to the open 
road and fired into the gray masses unfil 
he died ; the Worcesters flung their remnants 
across the road, and the line was ruade 
again. 
The whitest gentlemen of England died 
that day, and I would that I had rotted in 
their company belote I saw their sacred 
trust betrayed. We have dropped their 
fiery torch and the silken cushions call us. 

GLASGOW : W. COLLINS SONS AND C0. LTD. 



Messrs. 
COLLINS' 
Latest Novels 

Messrs. COLLINS will always be glad to send 
their book lists regularly to readers who will 
setd naine and address. 

PIRACY 

Michael Arlen 

This is the story of Ivor Pelham Marlay between the 
ages of 18 and 32, and the period is London, 191o-1922. 
It is the history of England, two loves, and an ideM. 
Mr. Arlen deals with all the types of London Society, and 
he likes to bring out the queer and unexpected sides of 
his characters. No one who read Mr. Arlen's flrst book, 
A London Venture, or his delightful short stories, A 
Romantic La,, needs to be told that he writes wittily 
and well. 



Latest Novels 

TYLER OF BARNET 

Bernard Gilbert 

Author of Old England 

This long, powerful novel shows the dilemna of a 
middle-aged man with an invalid wife and groxïa-up 
children, who falls passionately in love for the first time. 
As he is a man of iron self-control he reprcsses his passion 
till it bursts all bounds, with a tragic result. No one 
now writing knows so well or describes so vividly lire in 
the English countryside as does Bernard Gilbert. 

THE 

PIT-PROP SYNDICATE 
Freeman Wills Crofts 

Another brilliantly ingenious detective story by the 
author of The Ponson Case. The mystery of the real 
business of the syndicate utterly baffled the clever young 
"' amateurs " who tried to solve it, and it took al1 the 
experience and perseverance of the " professionals " to 
break up the dangerous and murderous gang. 



Latest Novels 

THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED 
F. Scott Fitzgerald 
This book has caused an even greate" sensation in 
America than This Side of Paraàise. If is a long, 
searching, and absolutely convincing study of degeneration, 
that degeneration which ruins so many of the rich, young, 
idle people. The " smart set " of New York is hurled 
into the limelight and mercilessly revealed. A witty, 
pungent, and entirely orginal book. 

DANDELION DAYS 
Henry Williamson 
This is the tale of a boy's last terres at a public school, 
a very sensitive, unusual boy, and it is in a sense a sequel 
to The Beautiful Years. It is the work of a very clever 
young writer whose nature essays have attracted the 
widest attention here and in America, and is utterly unlike 
the usual " school story." It is a subtle and beautifully 
written study of character. 



Latest Novels 

BEAN8TALK 
Mrs. Henry Dudeney 
A charmingly told novel ol Sussex. The theme is 
Motherhood, and ail the emotional subtleties of the desire 
for children. 

PENDER AMONG 
RE8IDENTS 

THE 

Forrest Reid 

This is an episode in the lire of Rex Pender, who 
inherited and came to lire at Ballycastle. It is the story 
of the curious spiritual experience which came to him 
there. It is in a sense a '" ghost story," but it is told by 
an artist and a stylist. " The Residents," moreover, a Je 
admirably contrasted, and in some cases deliciously 
humolously drawn. A charming, enigmatic, " different " 
book. 



Latest Novels 

THE DEAVES AFFAIR 

Hulbert Footner 

This is a story of Evan Weir's wooing, and a very 
strenuous and original pursuit it proved. In fact the 
lady of his choice so far dissembled ber love, as frequently 
to threaten his further existence. At the time, Evan was 
acting as secretary to old Simeon Deaves, famed as the 
possessor of the "tightest wad" in New York. 
Now certain individuals had designs upon old Simeon 
ard his hoard, and amongst them was the forcible and 
beautiful object of Evan's affections. 
Like The Owl Taxi, it goes with a splendid snap, and is 
packed with exciting and humorous incidents. 

ROSEANNE 

Madame Albanesi 

The author calls this an " old-fashioned story." It 
does hot concern itself with sex or any other problems, 
but is just a lively, well-told life of a very fascinating 
heroine who bas plenty of adventures sentimental and 
otherwise. 



Collins' 'First Novel' Library 

AUTUMN TITLES 

EXPERIENCE 

Catherine Cotton 

This charming chronicle has no "plot." It is an 
attempt fo present a happy, witty, simple-minded woman 
vho attracted love because she gave it out. This is a 
very difficult type of book to write. The attention of 
the reader must be aroused and held by the sheer merit 
of the writing, and the publishers believe they ha,ce fotmd 
in Catherine Cotton a writer with just the right gifts of 
wit, sympathy, and understanding. 

DOMENICO 

H. M. Anderson 

This is the story of a Cardinal of Rome, a member of 
one of the great noble families. In his youth something had 
happened which had thrown a shadow over his lire. There 
are three great crises in his life, one of them due to this 
shadow, one to the contrast between his conscience and 
his ambition, and the third when, an exile in England, he 
falls in love. Miss Anderson shows much skill in draving 
the character of this great and tragic figure.